06.04.10

Another Vice President Leaves Microsoft, Yahoo! Still Suffers Microsoft’s Grip

Posted in Microsoft at 8:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rabaul - Sunken ship

Summary: Robin Domeniconi, a Vice President (VP) at Microsoft, is the latest Microsoft VP to say goodbye as the company struggles to stay relevant

Vice presidents are leaving Microsoft at a high pace and the latest example is a lady who bids adieu after a short time. Here are some more details about this departures:

After a year and a half since she arrived at Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), ad exec Robin Domeniconi is leaving as the software giant is trying to hire MTV Networks’ Carolyn Everson to head global ad sales, AllThingsD reports, citing unidentified sources. Domeniconi, who took the job of Microsoft’s VP for U.S. Advertising Sales, Publishing and Marketing in November ‘08, had been a media and digital consultant to NY-based PE firm Avista Capital Partners.

As always, it’s important to know where those people end up. Here we have another new reminder that Yahoo! staff is being bossed around by Microsoft executives (Blake Irving in this case [1, 2]).

Stata will report to Blake Irving, the chief product officer who Yahoo hired in the wake of Balogh’s departure. Balogh also held the post of EVP of products.

Domeniconi does not have a long career at Microsoft, so wherever she ends up, there is not much Microsoft baggage for her to land with. It will be interesting to see where J Allard [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and Bach (who claims to be retiring or looking to retire) end up.

Why Nokia Sued Apple First (or Why Apple is Possibly the ‘Bad Guy’)

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nokia logo with Apple

Summary: Another angle on the Apple vs Nokia case

WE all know that Apple sued Linux/Android without any prior provocation from the side of Linux/Android. It makes Apple a patent aggressor, but some people cite Nokia as an example of Apple being the victim of a Linux-supporting company [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. In our third IRC channel (#boycottnovell-social) we have just discussed the point which came to us via Identi.ca [1, 2] (language warning, as it’s IRC and microblogging).

To make a long story short, Oiaohm insisted that it was Apple’s fault as it started to provoke Linux-based products (such as Palm’s WebOS) using patents. He explained that Nokia’s action was defensive in a proactive sense. Partial log is below.


Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft Jack (Schofield) Cites Microsoft Employee About Apple Product, Without Disclosure (Corrected)

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Standard at 8:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Correction: there was a mixup here. The reader who sent us the information confused two usability/user experience people from the Technical University of Denmark. They are not the same person. This post is therefore not correct.]

Jakob Nielsen
Photo by Doc Searls

Summary: The Guardian shows how to belittle Microsoft’s competition by approaching Microsoft employees without naming their relationship

Microsoft Jack (Jack Schofield [1, 2, 3, 4]) has mostly retired from The Guardian, but he still writes for the paper just occasionally.

“Jakob Nielsen critiques the iPad’s usability failings,” tells Microsoft Jack in his latest article’s headline, but he describes Nielsen only by his umbrella company, Nielsen Norman Group. Microsoft Jack ‘forgot’ to mention Nielsen’s job at Microsoft [DOC] (see correction at the top). To quote for those who cannot open .doc files:

Jakob Nielsen
Principal User Experience Manager, Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Corp.

Jakob Nielsen is the user experience manager for Microsoft Dynamics at Microsoft Corp., and is passionate about improving the experiences people have with Microsoft’s line of products for enterprise resource planning (ERP). He plays a leading role in driving the RoleTailored design approach into the development of the Microsoft Dynamics products, resulting in a user experience that enables people to be more productive in their particular role and thereby contributing the highest value to their business.

Nielsen joined Microsoft in November 1996 as a senior consultant for Microsoft Consulting Services in the Nordic region, where he specialized in IT strategy and technology consulting. Before Microsoft’s acquisition of Navision a/s in 2002, Nielsen spent three years as a product manager at Navision designing the user interface for Microsoft Navision Financials (now Microsoft Dynamics NAV). Before that Nielsen worked as a development manager for INFOFLEX A/S and as a developer for BRUHN DATA A/S, both Denmark-based companies.

Nielsen earned a master of science degree in computer science from the Technical University of Denmark in 1991.

This was last updated in 2009. Microsoft Jack went to meet Nielsen in his hotel room, which worked out pretty well for Microsoft. He ended up with an anti-Apple piece and as Microsoft’s CEO considers Apple to be a top competitor, maybe Schofield will find a place as a Microsoft employee (PR/”communication”), just like Peter Galli. They love hiring journalists who attack Microsoft’s competitors with false claims and omissions. We gave another example earlier this week.

Quebec Opens the Floodgates to Litigation for Pro-Microsoft Discrimination in Governments

Posted in America, Courtroom, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Savoir Faire Linux wins the case against Microsoft’s practices whereby Free software gets excluded from government tenders

BACK in March we wrote about the Quebec case, which was very important for reasons that we explained at an earlier time [1, 2]. Europe at the very least had voiced similar complaints but never really took formal action, except in Switzerland. For details about this case, see the following old posts:

  1. Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
  2. Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
  3. 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
  4. Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
  5. Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
  6. ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
  7. Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
  8. Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
  9. Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand
  10. Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?
  11. Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements
  12. Lawsuit Over Alleged Microsoft Corruption in Switzerland Escalates to Federal Court

The news from Quebec (automated translation from French) suggests that GNU/Linux proponents have beaten Microsoft in court. Here is the coverage from CBC:

Quebec broke law in buying Microsoft software

Quebec’s government broke the law by buying software from Microsoft without considering offers from other vendors, the province’s Superior Court has ruled.

The government’s procurement agency acted illegally in spending $720,000, beginning in the fall of 2006, on the migration of 800 workstations to Microsoft software, including Windows Vista and Office 2007, Judge Denis Jacques ruled in Quebec City on Thursday. The government did not perform a “serious and documented search” for alternatives, which it must do with any expenditure over $25,000, he said.

The decision was in regards to a suit filed in March 2008 by Savoir Faire Linux, a small Montreal-based firm that deals in open-source software.

Jacques dismissed arguments from the government, which said that Microsoft software was selected because employees were already familiar with it, and that switching to a different platform would have incurred additional costs. The government also argued that the move to Vista was an upgrade, not a purchase, and therefore did not need to be publicly tendered.

We will write about this at a later stage when more details arrive. Although it’s specific to Canadian/Quebec law and to these particular circumstances, it probably opens the door to similar action elsewhere and it’s guaranteed to make both Microsoft and government officials whom it’s exploiting a little more nervous. Congratulations to Savoir Faire Linux and many thanks upon winning this case.

Links 4/6/2010: Linux 2.6.35 Fixed, Alpha 1 of Ubuntu 10.10

Posted in News Roundup at 7:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • If you’re Canadian, you use Linux and you like multimedia, you’re about to become a criminal.

    This is a kind of crosspost summary of a new copyright amendment bill that was announced yesterday. Bill C-32 attempts to ‘modernize’ copyright law in Canada to bring it up to spec with other developed nations (aka to meet US agenda).

    The bill would make it illegal to circumvent or break locks of any kind on digital media, even for personal use. This supersedes all other provisions of the bill, which means you may be a criminal if you

    * Own and play region-locked DVDs from other countries
    * Play regular DVDs on Linux
    * Play Blu-Ray Discs on Linux
    * Transfer media to an iPod Touch / iPhone / iPad using Linux
    * Listen to DRM’d music on Linux

    And anything else that involves protected content that lacks official Linux support.

    Speak up while you can. Find your MP and write them an email telling them why you are opposed to C-62.

    We don’t want a US style DMCA, please don’t let that happen.

    Edit: Android is also Linux, so this applies to all of you Android users too!

  • Frank Zappa’s Influence on Linux

    And all this Zappa stuff has what, exactly, to do with Linux? Zappa may have been as much of an influence on Linux and FOSS development as LSD was on Apple, although the Zappa influence on Linux isn’t thought about as much as the Apple-counterculture connection.

    An awful lot of people were responsible for the early growth of GNU/Linux and Free and Open Source Software, most of whom were not famous like Linus Torvalds or Richard M. Stallman. One of them, Clay Claiborne of Cosmos Engineering, was the first person to sell Linux pre-loaded on a hard drive. This may not sound like a big deal now, in 2010, but back in the dial-up 1990s, when most Linux distros came on stacks of floppies, this was a major step forward for GNU/Linux usability.

    Was Clay influenced by Zappa? “Of course,” he says.

  • Washing the windows myths. Legal liability.

    Software defects? Well, according to windows xp professionals eula there is plenty of wriggle room. I quote

    LIMITED WARRANTY FOR PRODUCT ACQUIRED IN THE US AND CANADA. Microsoft warrants that the Product will perform substantially in accordance with the accompanying materials for a period of ninety days from the date of receipt.

    Notice the key word substantially? That is their escape hatch. Even if you find a bug and wish something done about it under warranty, what is done is entirely up to microsoft.

    In fact, if you really read, I mean really read the eula, microsoft have covered their rear ends any which way from here to kingdom come. There is no way you can bring legal action against them, no way you can claim damages and you don’t have a snowballs chance in the Sahara of winning if you did try.

    Not just microsoft either, as I mentioned before, just about every software is produced as is. No ifs, buts or maybes. Either take it or leave it, like it or lump it. You have no hook to hang your legal coat on. So to anyone who tries to bring out that legal liability myth I simply go phffft!

    This myth is just another FUD campaign to scare people away from open source. It holds no water and is as transparent as glass and just as fragile.

  • Linux Users vs. Linux Culture

    A lot has changed since I first started knocking on doors to solve my problems. First and foremost, there are a LOT more doors. Second, there are a lot more people to ask as open source finds itself becoming more and more mainstream. What doesn’t seem to have changed much are the responses.

  • Linux On The Top

    Realising this hurdle many committed Linux enthusiastic dedicated their time and energy to simplify the usage of Linux distributions. Today Linux is available for a wide range of products. Linux has become increasingly popular in recent years, partly owing to the popular Mandriva Linux, Fedora, Debian or Ubuntu distributions. In fact these distributions now come with user friendly GUI that gives a look and feeling of other proprietary operating systems that user are currently using.

  • Audiocasts

  • Kernel Space

    • The Big Linux 2.6.35 Kernel Problem Is Fixed

      With yesterday’s automated kernel tests via our Phoromatic-powered test farm that monitors the Linux kernel performance on a daily basis with the results being available at kernel-tracker.phoromatic.com. Using the 2 June kernel from the Ubuntu mainline PPA no longer causes a major performance hit and all of the test result values have returned to their levels prior to this kernel bug that lasted about one week.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • Qt and Open Governance

      And we’ll also need to open up the decision-making structure. That is to say, contributors who have shown themselves to be trustworthy and good at what they do deserve the right of having a say in the decisions. Take, for example some of the contributors of the past year: there are a couple of cases where they know the code better than people working in the Qt offices. We have come quickly to the point where we have to say “I trust you that this contribution is good”. This is part of the meritocratic process that we want to have in place.

  • Distributions

    • New Open-Source OS Will Feature ‘Disposable’ Virtual Machines

      Invisible Things Lab is creating these lightweight, throwaway VMs that work with traditional virtual machines in Qubes, the open-source, Xen-based OS it plans to release in beta later this summer. Qubes was architected to minimize the attack surface in the VM environment.

    • Mandriva Linux is a fantastic scientific platform

      Stéphane TELETCHEA is working in a french research laboratory. He is also contributing to Mandriva Linux as a tester and packager for some years now. Below is his testimony in Mandriva Linux use for his daily work.

      We started using Mandriva Linux (Mandriva at that time) in the laboraty for the great combination of an ease of use and a very strong development platform. At that time I was a starting my PhD and trying to migrate from aging SGI Indigo 2 to more powerful standard PC-based computers. I did test other distributions at that time but Mandriva was the only one offering a lot of scientific applications (one that comes to my mind is XmGrace). Perl/bioperl, python, fortran, gcc and libc stacks were and are still very up-to-date but functional as if they were tested for years. This very good combination of stability and recent releases also helped some colleagues in improving their programs (for instance with the stricter checks coming in c++ in the gcc 4 series). This stability was also very appreciated while writing my PhD thesis where LyX and Pybliographer, on top of the Tetex stack, showed no crash leading to text loss. The pressure was sufficiently high in other domains to appreciate this part (those using Word or even Writer can not understand the beauty of (La)TeX).

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Squeeze Pre-review

        Every two years or so, Debian puts out a new “stable” release. This is my favorite distribution because of the minimal number of bugs and the huge software repositories and the powerful package manager. Right now, Lenny (5.0) is the stable release, and Squeeze (6.0) is in testing. Sometime “soon” Squeeze will get frozen, which means the regular flow of package migration will stop, and from then on it will only get bug and security fixes through a method of back-porting. Once the number of “release critical” bugs is reduced to an acceptable level (which used to mean 0, more recently it means 50 or so), then Squeeze will be released as the new stable version.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Maverick Alpha 1 released

          Pre-releases of Maverick are *not* encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting, and fixing bugs.

        • Celebrate Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha with these awesome Meerkat-inspired Wallpapers

          Whether you intend to download and install Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 1 or not the following meerkat-themed wallpapers will certainly get you in the Maverick-y mood.

        • Ubuntu LTS 10.04, a Linux OS at Its Best

          It’s convenient to have a server install that’s entirely separate from the desktop install, and while it may not be as visually slick as the desktop version, that’s not really what you want on a server. The install was straightforward; I really liked the package collections; and everything was functional on first bootup. Five years of support is good, and all the software installed was fairly up-to-date (within a couple of release points, which is reasonable given the testing cycle needed for a long-term release). Ubuntu provides security updates regularly, so any security improvements in more recent releases should be rolled out to your servers quickly.

          One problem I found was that the documentation available online is a bit shaky. In some cases, it still refers to earlier releases, which isn’t very reassuring. However, Ubuntu is obviously making an effort with its documentation, and it’s easier to find information than it is with some other distros.

          Overall, Lucid Lynx is an impressive offering and definitely something I’d be happy to use for my own servers. More console-driven system management tools and better documentation, would make it an even better option.

        • Linaro: Accelerating Linux on ARM

          At our last UDS in Belgium it was notable how many people were interested in the ARM architecture. There have always been sessions at UDS about lightweight environments for the consumer electronics and embedded community, but this felt tangibly different. I saw questions being asked about ARM in server and cloud tracks, for example, and in desktop tracks. That’s new.

          So I’m very excited at today’s announcement of Linaro, an initiative by the ARM partner ecosystem including Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and TI, to accelerate and unify the field of Linux on ARM. That is going to make it much easier for developers to target ARM generally, and build solutions that can work with the amazing diversity of ARM hardware that exists today.

        • 3-Chip firms form venture to boost Linux push
        • Variants

          • Mint 9

            Everything is stable. Everything just works. No messing around.

          • Peppermint OS – A New Take on the Web-Centric Desktop

            As a Linux, Peppermint is not particularly notable except for its suitability for machines with low hardware specs, or users who do not want system resources wasted on bells and whistles like 3D cubes and wobbly windows. Peppermint should run quickly on just about any PC. Regarding the Prism aspect, it’s harder to draw a conclusion. Mozilla is still developing Prism so its full capabilities have not yet been reached, but the current state does not seem to be especially remarkable. Much of the functionality can be replicated (though perhaps not as well) with simple browser shortcuts. When Prism has more polish it may be a central part of how we interact with our computers, but for now Peppermint is mainly a small, fast and simple OS, albeit with dreams of something bigger.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • The Kno, a Tablet for the College Market

      The Kno, a dual-screen device aimed at the college market, falls in the latter category. The tablet/e-reader, which was first shown in public on Wednesday at the D8 technology conference in Southern California, allows students to view textbooks on its digital screens much as they would appear in their analog versions, with text, color images and graphics.

    • Kno dual-screen tablet appears at D8, we go hands-on

      Kno promised to launch a double-screened Linux-based e-reader designed for students at D8, and the undercover startup didn’t disappoint — believe us when we say it came out in a big way.

    • Jumbo dual-screen tablet Kno debuts at D8

      The Kno is a big device, having two 14.1 inch (1440 x 900) capacitive touch screens. Each screen has its own battery, giving the Kno 8-hours of battery life, but a hefty weight of 5.5 lbs (I suppose all that glass contributes to the weight as well). As a point of reference, the iPad weighs 1.5 lbs and people complain it’s too heavy. On the other hand, the Kno is so big that you’d probably lay it on a desk to use it. And the target audience is students; if Kno (the company) has its way, students will be carrying around a Kno (the device) rather than a stack of textbooks. That’s the reason for the huge screens; most textbook pages can be shown ‘full size’ on a 14″ screen. Five and a half pounds doesn’t seem so bad compared to a backpack full of textbooks.

    • Phones

      • HP CEO: “We didn’t buy Palm to be in the smartphone business”

        According to Hurd, HP was actually more interested in Palm’s IP — specifically webOS, which he wants to put on “tens of millions of HP small form-factor web-connected devices.” Sure, that makes sense, and it lines up perfectly with HP’s plan to “double down on webOS” and put it on everything from netbooks and slates to printers, but hey, Mark? You should really look into the smartphone business when you get a second, okay? Just trust us on this one.

      • Linpus Linux: Now with netbook, slate, MeeGo editions

        The first Acer netbooks to hit the market in 2008 were running Linpus Linux Lite, a custom Linux distribution optimized for small screens. While you don’t see many Linux netbooks anymore, the folks at Linpus haven’t given up on the mobile space, and they’re showing off the latest versions of Linpus for netbooks and tablets.

      • MeeGo v1.0 for Netbooks Review
      • Webia Technologies Brings Us a $50 Android-Powered Set-Top-Box [Video]

        Webia Technologies introduced their budget-priced Bonux set-top-box prototype at Computex 2010 and it’s showing a lot of promise. The device is running an ARM11 SoC processor clocked between 700-720 mhz and the demo that they showed was speedy enough to make more than just a few people notice.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Best Free and Open Source CRM Software

    Best Free and Open Source CRM Software: Customer relationship management (CRM) is a business strategy for managing and understanding clients and sales prospects to help enhance customer satisfaction and thus increase profit and reduce operational costs. CRM software is needed to collect the correct information about a company’s customers and arrange that information for proper analysis and action. It is a tool for organizing, automating, and synchronize business processes for sales activities, marketing, customer service, and technical support. The information gathered by a CMS software needs to be kept up-to-date, accessible to employees, and provide the knowledge for employees to convert that data into products better matched to customers’ needs.

  • Events

    • Liberation must replace domination in digital world

      I’M AT Open Source Bridge, a conference in Portland, Oregon for those who don’t only write software that’s free, but who care about it enough to plan, organise, and speak at an entirely volunteer-run programming conference. Portland is the second (and perhaps, the denizens here would say, the first) city of free software.

      It’s a strange time for this community, caught between their ideals and the business world. Back in the early 1990s, Linus Torvalds, then a post-graduate at the University of Helsinki with a strange hobby of building a competitor to Windows in his spare time, would speak jokingly of his plans for “World Domination. Fast!”

      Now, 20 years on, the world domination phase of open source software has been and perhaps gone.

      Free software is ubiquitous and invisible: it powers Google and Yahoo!, a sizeable chunk of Fortune 500, and most of the internet’s infrastructure. I’ve seen it in use from Beijing to Tajikistan (which has volunteers who convert it to run in their native Tajik language, which Microsoft and Apple won’t deign to).

    • The Quintessence of Open Source

      The second Innovators barcamp – a meet-up organized by the Italian innovators group to pass from talking about innovation to do it in and for public administrations – was the perfect venue to share some ideas about “Open Source & Multi-sided Markets“.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox Ditches the Dialog Box

      Get ready to say goodbye to Firefox’s multitude of dialog boxes. Recent design mock-ups show Firefox moving toward an “in-content” look where settings, the add-on manager, themes and other “things which formerly appeared in dialog boxes” will now become just another tab in your browser.

  • Funding

    • Diaspora’s Final Tally: $200,000 From Nearly 6,500 Backers

      When Diaspora set out to raise money to build an open Facebook alternative site, they had a pretty modest goal: $10,000. Of course, they were raising the funds through a less than traditional means — using Kickstarter, an online fundraising site. Still, they shot past that goal in 12 days. And within 20 days, they had raised over $100,000. Yesterday, the fundraising closed, the final tally: just over $200,000.

  • Openness

    • Open Sourcing Politics

      “Linux is subversive”: so begins “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” Eric Raymond’s analysis of the open source way. The subversion there was mainly applied to the world of software, but how much more subversive are the ideas that lie behind open source when applied to politics.

      That is precisely what the increasingly-important open government movement aims to do, an area I’ve been covering in this blog partly because of its close kinship with open source, but also because of the major implications it has for the use of open source – not least because open government tends to promote its deployment. But what exactly is open government, and how does it flow from open source?

    • Why “Naked Transparency” Has No Clothes

      First of all, I think we already have a data point on such radical transparency. Open source is conducted totally in the open, with all decisions being subject to challenge and justification. That manifestly works, for all its “naked transparency”.

      Now, politics is plainly different in certain key respects, not least because hackers are different from politicians, and there has been a culture of *anti*-openness among the latter.

    • WIPO To Open Its Doors To Public For First Time Ever

      The World Intellectual Property Organization is opening its doors to the public on Saturday for a glimpse at the organisation’s activities, during its first-ever “open day.”

      Visitors will be given the opportunity to ask WIPO staff, including the director general, questions during the day. The event is part of a larger Geneva weekend event to coincide with World Environment Day on 5 June. The UN Environment Programme is organising events on the Place des Nations, and the gardens of the Palais des Nations will also be open to the public on 5 June, and on 6 June the International Peace Bureau will have events along the Geneva lakeside.

    • Open Data

      • Local council? Want to publish your data? Here’s how

        In a very timely fashion, data.gov.uk has come up with a blogpost explaining for any local authorities who want to know (and are listening/reading) how to publish itemised local authority expenditure.

      • Opening up government finances

        The following guest post is from Chris Taggart of OpenlyLocal, who advises the Where Does My Money Go? project on local spending data, and is a member of the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Working Group on Open Government Data.

  • Programming

    • The False Uniformity of Oatmeal Code

      Here’s the interesting thesis: languages which allow you to write ugly code let you skim programs to find bad code. Languages which force you to write uniform code take away your ability to skim programs to find bad code.

      In other words, the superficial visual differences between good Lisp code and bad Lisp code or between good Python code and bad Python code or good assembly code and bad assembly code or good Java code and bad Java code (or good Befunge and bad Befunge code, if you haven’t had enough DFW yet) are smaller than the superficial visual differences between good Perl code and bad Perl code or good C code and bad C code or good C++ code and bad C++ code or good PHP code and bad PHP code.

Leftovers

  • The BeOS file system: an OS geek retrospective
  • Romania Cannibalizes its Anti-Corruption Institutions

    We don’t want to say we told you so. But we did. For the past few years, we’ve been repeatedly asked (with many a raised eyebrow) why our data assessing national-level anti-corruption mechanisms in countries like Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, and Romania were so strong…amongst the strongest globally, in fact. Our answer has been straightforward: the EU and NATO accession processes in those countries had a real impact in terms of forcing governments to adopt some world-class anti-corruption institutions. Just don’t expect them to last forever, we cautioned.

  • Science

    • Part-Human, Part-Machine Transistor Devised

      Man and machine can now be linked more intimately than ever, according to a new article in the journal ACS Nano Letters. Scientists have embedded a nano-sized transistor inside a cell-like membrane and powered it using the cell’s own fuel.

      The research could lead to new types of man-machine interactions where embedded devices could relay information about the inner workings of disease-related proteins inside the cell membrane, and eventually lead to new ways to read, and even influence, brain or nerve cells.

    • Why Are Indian Kids So Good at Spelling?

      Consider the facts: Indian-Americans make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population; this year, an estimated 30 NSF-ers will compete at Scripps, 11 percent of the 273-kid field. Recent winners include Sai R. Gunturi from Dallas, who nonchalantly reassembled pococurante for a national title in 2003. Sameer Mishra from West Lafayette, Ind., nailed guerdon in 2008. And four-time finalist Shivashankar made it back-to-back titles for North South Foundation competitors last year, air-writing Laodicean for the win. If Shivashankar hadn’t come through, it’s possible another North South graduate would have: Four other NSF kids cracked the top 10 behind her.

  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

  • Finance

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Lawyers Claim Google Wi-Fi Sniffing ‘Is Not an Accident’

      Google spokeswoman Christine Chen said in an e-mail that the patent in question “is entirely unrelated to the software code used to collect Wi-Fi information with Street View cars.” In a follow up e-mail, Chen added that Google files “patent applications on a variety of ideas that our engineers come up with. Some of them mature into real products or services, and some of them don’t.”

    • Google to hand over intercepted data

      Google will begin handing over to European regulators the rogue data it intercepted from private WiFi internet connections within the next two days, in an effort to defuse growing controversy over its latest privacy blunder.

      [...]

      “We screwed up. Let’s be very clear about that,” Mr Schmidt said. “If you are honest about your mistakes it is the best defence for it not happening again.”

    • How Google Uses You
    • EU To Monitor All Internet Searches

      “The European Parliament is issuing a written declaration about the need to set up an early warning system to combat sexual child abuse. However, the substance of the declaration is to extend the EU data retention directive to search engines, so that all searches done on for example Google will be monitored. If you are a citizen concerned about the right to privacy and freedom on the Internet, you can help by sending e-mail to the MEPs from your country and explaining the issue to them.”

    • AT&T warns customer that emailing the CEO will result in a cease and desist letter

      Sure, Steve Jobs might be a one-man email PR machine, but his pal Randall Stephenson at AT&T doesn’t appear to be quite as gregarious — as reader Giorgio Galante found out today, sending AT&T’s CEO two emails in two weeks results in a phone call from AT&T’s Executive Response Team and a warning that further emails will result in a cease and desist letter.

    • Tweeter appeals against conviction over explosive airport message

      Paul Chambers, a former trainee accountant who was fined £1,000 after posting a message to the social network Twitter joking about blowing up an airport, is to appeal against his conviction.

    • CPJ denounces Israel’s use of footage seized in flotilla raid

      The Committee to Protect Journalists denounces Israel’s editing and distribution of footage confiscated from foreign journalists aboard the Gaza-bound flotilla that was raided on Monday.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • What’s Left Of The Sony Betamax Decision?

      When Cross puts all those stories together like that, you realize how much of the last few years has really been about the entertainment industry effectively dismantling the core concepts put forth by Stevens in the Betamax decision. A key component to what helped make the internet free to become the internet we know, love and use every day, is slowly getting chipped away by special interests who don’t want to allow that freedom because it undermines their business models. When you put all of that together in one place and realize how much has already been eroded, it’s downright frightening, and it makes you wonder what great new technology won’t be built and won’t be widely used because of these policies.

    • DE Act: does the UK qualify for a 2-tier copyright regime?

      A qualifying copyright holder is a new concept under the Digital Economy Act. But what is it? And is Ofcom introducing a two-tier copyright regime, where those with the valuable rights get privileges and individual authors get side-lined?

Clip of the Day

NASA Connect – Good Stress (10/21/2004)


Microsoft’s Attack on GNU/Linux and ODF Continues

Posted in Europe, FUD, GNU/Linux, Open XML, OpenDocument at 1:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The first wave will attack the perception that Linux is free.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft

Summary: Latest new examples of Microsoft playing unfair and distorting facts

Anti-Free Software

Dustin Puryear, a Microsoft apologist, reveals that Microsoft is crippling Linux using its proprietary software. It seems like an artificial limitation. Did anyone expect any better?

Using SMP with Microsoft Hyper-V and Linux

[...]

Why does Microsoft only support a single CPU for Linux? It doesn’t make sense from a technical angle since Microsoft has already done the difficult work of getting Hyper-V to work on SMP systems. To me, really, this has to be a tactical move. Certainly, Microsoft is going to support SMP for Linux in the long-term. They’ll have to due to customer demand. But they can certainly stall a bit so that people wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to run their application under a Windows VM.

Anti-Standards

The OOXML corruptions are not quite over yet. Groklaw has some new details from Norway.

In 2009, Norway decided that ODF was to be used, rather than OOXML, but called for further study and input from the IT industry, and I gather Microsoft put its shoulder to the wheel, and guess what? Now there is a new report (in Norwegian) that compared the two and concludes that neither is suitable, and both should be kept “under observation”. So, what should the government use as their standard if the report’s conclusions are accepted? What’s left? Previous legacy binary formats, one assumes?

Wait. No, it didn’t. It didn’t compare OOXML, the ISO standard, with ODF. It compared *ECMA-376*, which is not an ISO standard, with ODF 1.1, which is, but which no one much uses any more, practically speaking, last I heard, since everyone has moved to 1.2. What’s the logic there?

[...]

Notice a decided tilt? Doug Mahugh, Alex Brown, Gareth Horton, and Jesper Lund Stocholm, the usuals pushing OOXML, and Mahugh and Stocholm left cynical comments on Garshol’s blog about the study, on what a great study he did, as if it was news to them he was doing it, as I read their comments.

[...]

Is *that* why the OOXML dudes have been posting comment after comment and blog post after blog post attacking ODF? I was wondering why they thought that would help. The report’s author says in a comment, “My main source for the assertion that there are lots of errors is the ODF error database…” He acknowledges that, “I realize that the testing I describe here is very superficial…”

Well, yes, yes it is. It comes across to me like Microsoft dumped a pile of talking points on his desk, and he wrote them up.

So it’s the familiar Microsoft group, which always lobbies against ODF, sometimes for financial gain (like Microsoft paying ‘experts’ to edit Wikipedia). Also see:

This is from the company which pretends to have embraced ODF (to silence critics).

Anti-Customer

Here are some transcriptions of this new cartoon a reader sent us:

Hello, I’d like to find some documentation on your UberSecuR(TM) Suite of Identity Authorization tools for Ubersoft Webserver.

Oh, we don’t provide any documentation for that.

You don’t provide any documentation at all?

We prefer to force our customers to pay overpriced consulting fees whenever they run into a problem.

That’s very unethical.

That’s probably a veiled reference to Microsoft, as usual.

Architect of Microsoft’s Patent Strategy Has Left the Building

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 1:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Senjatrollet
The world`s largest troll, Norway

Summary: Marshall Phelps left Microsoft after equipping it with a software patents portfolio similar to the one he created for IBM

OVER a year ago we alleged that Microsoft's Marshall Phelps had failed to sign Red Hat on a patent deal and was therefore dismissed. The closest Microsoft ever got to ‘taxing’ Red Hat was its Amazon deal and maybe that case involving Acacia (assuming that Microsoft was a backer). As rightly pointed out in this new post, software patents are antithetical to software freedom.

Few topics can illicit a more guttural response from an open source advocate than the topic of software patents. In many respects they are the very anti-thesis of open source. In security there has been one particularly irksome patent that has bedeviled the industry for years and probably held back innovation and progress in gateway anti-virus technology. Now after all these years, as many have claimed in the past, the patent is on the verge of being over turned as invalid. The best news is that it very well may have been the open source community that showed it as invalid!

We now have it confirmed that Phelps left Microsoft and according to the following new article, Marshall Phelps left Microsoft after helping their anti-Linux strategy and doing similar work at IBM (which is also in favour of software patents). From Law.com: [via]

Last week, MDB Capital Group–an IP-focused investment bank that promises to help investors understand “the hidden value of intellectual property assets and future technological leadership”–held what it billed as its first annual “Bright Lights” intellectual property conference, bringing together IP-centric speakers from a variety of small and medium-size companies.

The Prior Art attended the opening panel, which included the heads of two of the largest, and most litigious, patent-holding companies—Erich Spangenberg and Paul Ryan, the CEO of Acacia Research Corp., the largest publicly traded patent-licensing company.

The panel also included representatives from consultancy ipCapital Group and RPX Corp., which buys litigated patents in order to strike deals between NPEs and operating companies, as well as IP guru Marshall Phelps. (Phelps is something of a legend for building IBM’s legendary $2 billion patent-licensing operation; most recently, he helped Microsoft build up a patent-licensing operation before leaving the company last year.

When Phelps was in Microsoft they managed to sign the patent deal with Novell and later on he wrote a book on the subject.

Novell poses a risk to Free software [1, 2]. Novell’s patents become ammunition against GNU/Linux itself and Nortel — a company whose name is similar to Novell — is in a similar situation: [via]

Nortel may raise $1.1 billion from patents

Nortel Networks Corp., the insolvent Canadian phone-equipment maker, may get as much as $1.1 billion (U.S.) for technology patents that analysts say would benefit potential bidders including Research In Motion Ltd.

Several days ago Florian Müller openly criticised the OIN, which is part of IBM’s reason/excuse to keep software patents in tact. “Mueller calls OIN a scam,” says the headline at ZDNet. It’s an overstatement. It also says:

Much of what Mueller has been doing of late is setting himself as an active FOSS advocate, and that’s a good thing.

That’s still in doubt (FOSS advocacy), but the agenda which favours abolition is clear and that’s the right route to take. In his latest post he proposes a grading system for conduct, suggesting that companies get classified for their attitude towards software patents.

Harmfulness ranking of ways to use software patents

[...]

That trend isn’t difficult to imagine. Just look at the current situation surrounding smartphones, a field in which there’s now a number of lawsuits and countersuits among big players as well as different non-producing entities (“patent trolls”) targeting large vendors.

In light of all that’s going on, which ways to use software patents are more harmful than others? After giving it some thought, I have arrived at this harmfulness ranking:

1. most harmful: malicious strategic patent holders pursuing exclusionary/anti-competitive objectives

2. second-most harmful: non-producing entities (“patent trolls”)

3. least harmful: cooperative strategic patent holders granting licenses to entire portfolios on acceptable terms

[...]

“Trolls” are a feature — not a bug — of the software patent system

The above subhead is a summary of a statement that Carlo Piana, a leading European FOSS lawyer, recently made on identi.ca/Twitter.

If one believes that certain general ideas should be “monopolizable” through patents, then it’s a natural consequence that some will obtain (or acquire) patents and try to derive commercial benefits from them without ever creating their own products. Far be it from me to defend the concept of “patent trolls” — I just want to point out that it wouldn’t be practical to impose an obligation on every patent holder to make actual products. At the most it might be possible to limit the procedural rights of a non-producing entity to the right to be indemnified (excluding injunctive relief).

Companies that still defend software patents are not genuine proponents of software freedom. And yet, it is better to meet half way and accept the fact that companies can change over time.

“Other than Bill Gates, I don’t know of any high tech CEO that sits down to review the company’s IP portfolio.”

Marshall Phelps

Patents Roundup: CSIRO Compared to a “Patent Troll”, The Hindu on Gene Patents, and Solicitor Greed

Posted in Australia, Patents at 1:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vintage brass microscope

Summary: Assorted patent news illustrating patent unrest

CSIRO is a patent aggressor [1, 2, 3], which is truly a shame because it reflects badly on the government of Australia and Renai LeMay makes unflattering accusations: [via]

There’s a good case to be made that Australia’s peak science body is turning into a patent troll.

The Hindu writes about gene patents

Bold words, coming from a rebel scientist — one who created a storm over a decade ago by first trying to patent a human gene (not allowed to do so by law), and then decoding the entire human genome, in competition with the publicly funded organizations doing the same. Now, he and his group have gone ahead and done what New Scientist had “assumed”.

[...]

There is the other issue of patents and ownership. Venter’s group has applied for several patents covering the work.

While one group, commenting on this, worries whether it could result in a monopoly on “synthetic life”, another sounds a reassuring note: “It is unlikely that Synthetic Genomics (Venter’s company) will become the Microsoft of synthetic biology”.

Watch how legal sites/press treat the issue of patents:

Looking ahead, European law firms will be keen to get their teeth into the new European market when it finally emerges. Law firms will have to be careful how they alter their strategy on the Continent to position themselves in what promises to be a lucrative market.

When they are calling it a “lucrative market” they are referring to litigation and granting of monopolies, which is disgusting because it implies disregard for science.

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