TechBytes 2012-2013 Season

Posted in TechBytes at 1:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techbytes 2013

Direct download as Ogg (00:01:58, 0.9 MB)

Summary: The first episode of the new season

TechBytes’ message for the new season.

We hope you will join us for future shows and consider subscribing to the show via the RSS feed. You can also visit our archives for past shows. If you have an Identi.ca account, consider subscribing to TechBytes in order to keep up to date.

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Apple Must Apologise to Judges, Not Just to Samsung and Android

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Deception, GNU/Linux, Google at 12:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple’s tribalism backfires


Summary: Apple’s Hubris and reluctance to comply with court orders is costing it not just in bad publicity but also a more severe and stern order

Apple is a nasty company based on its behaviour in recent years. It’s not mere emotion that makes one call Apple “nasty”; this has become a widely-held perception, sometimes about Apple’s most passionate customers too. Watch Apple getting criticised for its aggressive nature again:

Apple is a litigious company, most famously for its multi-billion dollar patent crusade against Samsung. The Cupertino company has a more quixotic legal battle going on against its competitors, however, that has also become a bit of a war against the English language. Since last year, Apple lawyers have been arguing that “App Store” is a trademarked phrase, and it has the right to stop others from using similar phrases. That includes Amazon, which was sued by Apple in March 2011, shortly after it opened the Amazon Appstore for Android.

Now, some of those issues are finally coming to a head in public. At a hearing today in an Oakland federal court, it became clear that while Apple may have a lot of fury and passion behind this lawsuit, it has run into trouble in the form of a very skeptical judge. US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton showed great doubt that Apple will be able to prove that consumers were confused or deceived by Amazon’s use of the word “Appstore.” At this point, it’s somewhat remarkable that the company hasn’t dropped this suit, since Hamilton indicated a year ago that she was unimpressed by Apple’s arguments and denied a preliminary injunction.


Apple‘s arrogant marketing (including the “R and D” nonsense) is not impressing those who see innovators fleeing or getting fired. To quote this one report, “[w]hen Apple forced its mobile software leader Scott Forstall out of the company, it pushed out the most prolific inventor at the company, as measured by recent patent filings.

“Forstall’s name is on 166 pending patent applications. That’s more than anyone at the company, according to data from investment bank MDB Capital.”

Those patents have been used against companies like Samsung, usually in vain. Apple is getting told off by judges who accuse the company of breach of order. To quote: “Apple tried to argue that it would take 14 days to post an updated notice on its website, but the request was shot down. In fact, Judge Jacob made it clear that Apple’s actions are beginning to make him testy.”

Mr. Pogson says that “Apple Needs to Learn Humility” and in a post by Mike Masnick we learn about the background:

Last week we noted that Apple had put up a rather petulant non-apology apology in response to the UK court order requiring it to advertise to the world that Samsung didn’t copy Apple in making its devices. Many people wondered how the court would react to Apple’s attempt… and the answer is that the court is not pleased (and is further displeased by Apple’s claim that it needs two weeks to come up with something better)…

Pamela Jones says that Apple must go further than before:

There are consequences now that are worse than before. Apple tried to argue that they followed the letter of the law in the original notice, as does Patently Apple. But there is something called the spirit of the law too, and if you follow one and thumb your nose at the other, things can go wrong, because people notice. Judges are not stupid. Not that I believe what Apple did obeyed the letter of the law either. Nor did the judge in the UK.

It’s never all right to show disrespect to a court of law, and lawyers above all others should take the lead in demonstrating that respect. The rule of law actually depends on it, which is another way of saying that civilization itself depends on it. Otherwise, it’s back to pistols at dawn, or worse.

We wrote about the fake apology several times before [1, 2, 3]. Here is the best report we found in the sense that it’s not shy to slam Apple:

Apple Has To Readmit That Samsung Did Not Copy iPad Design: Reprimanded By Court


Judge Jacob said, “I’m at a loss that a company such as Apple would do this. That is a plain breach of the order.”

Apple’s arrogance doesn’t end here. The company requested 14 days to make the changes. Wow. Why would a company need 14 days to make changes to it’s own site? Typical Apple.

Judge Jacob did not buy this and rejected the request stating, “I just can’t believe the instructions you’ve been given. This is Apple. They cannot put something on their website?”

Here is the Apple-friendly BBC:

Apple has 48 hours to re-write a statement on its website relating to its design rights dispute with Samsung, UK judges have ruled.


Lord Justice Longmore told Mr Beloff: “We are just amazed that you cannot put the right notice up at the same time as you take the other one down.”

Sir Robin Jacob added: “I would like to see the head of Apple [Tim Cook] make an affidavit about why that is such a technical difficulty for the Apple company.”

Now, that would be entertaining. Apple got itself deeper in the PR blunder. Its arrogance sure works against its intentions and brings no benefit.

Accumulation of Patents Against Android, Feds Target the Victim After Apple and Microsoft Lobbying on FRAND

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 12:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reality distortion by Apple and Microsoft

Sky falling

Summary: An inane attack on the leading Linux-base operating system, including a lobbying battle in the United States

The abjectly pro-protectionism and pro-corporations/multi-nationalism USPTO continues to grant software patents like they’re as valid as anything.

Companies like Kodak, in the mean time, put many software patents on sale. As one blogger put it the other day:

Kodak went bankrupt after over 130 years, but not because the company failed to innovate. It owned over 1,000 digital imaging patents, part of a portfolio valued in the billions of dollars, but the company failed to realize any commercial gains from its innovations. The company was too focused on trying to save its film business.

Now it is suing and may reportedly feed Android-hostile trolls, not bodies like OIN, which continue to boast growth but hardly do anything.

According to recent reports, Apple may be trying to buy more Android-hostile patents while trying to pretend that it's the victim. Lobbying from Apple and Microsoft finally pays off:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should sue Google Inc. (GOOG) for trying to block competitors’ access to key smartphone-technology patents in violation of antitrust law, the agency’s staff told commissioners in a formal recommendation, according to four people familiar with the matter.

A majority of the agency’s five commissioners are inclined to sue, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. A final decision on the staff recommendation, made last month, isn’t likely until after the Nov. 6 presidential election, they said.

This is ridiculous because Google has been the victim all along. How can the regulators be blind to Apple’s and Microsoft’s behaviour? We reported the unethical Microsoft/Apple lobby to the FTC; instead of going after the aggressor it goes after the defender. It would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so pathetic.

FRAND Dies in the United Kingdom

Posted in Europe, OSI, Patents, Standard at 12:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Union Jack

Summary: The British government says no to “FRAND”-washed software patents traps, at least in the public sector

It is with great pleasure that we read this news about standards winning in the UK. Real standards:

Whitehall has launched its long-awaited response to the open standards consultation, which will force government bodies to comply with its list of “Open Standards Principles” when purchasing technology.

Departments must use the principles for all software interoperability and data and document formats. If they do not use the principles they will have to apply for an exemption, according to a Cabinet Office statement. As of today the principles will be embedded in the Cabinet Office’s spend control process.

Over at IDG, never mind London-based sites, Simon Phipps, the OSI’s President (from the UK), celebrates on the news:

Government procurements now prefer open standards – and that means no patent restrictions in the standards.

Here is something about getting it right:

A little over five years ago I was speaking at a conference for the CIOs of various Canadian ministries. Speaking just before me was a consultant from Accenture who was presenting on their most recent Global Report on Government Service Delivery. In it, Canada had just slipped from first to second in the world, after Singapore. While slightly disappointed, the audience remained content that among 30 or so leading countries in the world, Canada remained second.

The FSFE’s response was noted by some:

The new policy does not cover open-source software, which is part of a different policy document.

“This is a major step forward,” said the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) of the Open Standards Principles.

Here is the original statement in full, courtesy of Karsten:

Today, the UK took a long-awaited, important step towards fixing this problem. (FSFE press release) It published a set of “Open Standards principles” (pdf). They’re effective immediately, and all central government bodies will have to abide by them. It also put out a response to the public Open Standards consultation that it had run up to June 2012. (See FSFE’s response to the consultation.) In this post, I’m covering only the Open Standards principles.

This news is important for British SMBs which capitalise on standards, unlike giant multinationals.

Richard Stallman Suggests Defanging Software Patents in the US

Posted in America, Patents at 12:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Central Park

Summary: The father of Free software tells mainstream publications to recommend banning of lawsuits over software patents


hen we last published Richard Stallman's idea for software patents reform he spoke about it over the phone. We now see it summarised as “Legislate That Using Software On General Purpose Computers Is Not Infringing,” as put by Mike Masnick. For a little bit of background: “Wired is running a series of opinion pieces concerning ways to “fix” problems with the patent system today (we’ve made our own suggestions in the past if anyone’s interested). It started with a suggestion from Mark Lemley that was similar to his other recent statements about fixing the problems of software patents by actually applying existing law to stop functional claiming (i.e., claiming around general concepts rather than specific implementations).”

This series in Wired was mentioned here the other day an here is its latest part. It starts as follows:

Patents threaten every software developer, and the patent wars we have long feared have broken out. Software developers and software users – which in our society, is most people – need software to be free of patents.

The patents that threaten us are often called “software patents,” but that term is misleading. Such patents are not about any specific program. Rather, each patent describes some practical idea, and says that anyone carrying out the idea can be sued. So it’s clearer to call them “computational idea patents.”

Computer-implemented inventions, or CII, is another common term for them. Nothing physical is being patented except the arrangement of electrons and bits on general-purpose machines. This needs to stop. It’s a perversion of the patent system and its intended purpose. Read Stallman’s ideas in the links above.

Damages of Microsoft’s Non-compliance Enumerated, Internet Explorer Should be Banned

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft at 12:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fines don’t achieve compliance


Summary: Exploration around the toll of Microsoft not complying with the law

Microsoft is said to be facing a multi-billion-dollar fine for antitrust-related issues followed by reluctance to accept a punishment. Mozilla says that this may have cost a lot:

Microsoft’s omission of the legally-required Browser Choice screen in Windows 7 SP 1 lost Mozilla approximately 6 to 9 million downloads of its open source Firefox web browser, according to a blog posting by Harvey Anderson, VP of Business Affairs and General Counsel at Mozilla.

In 2009, Microsoft was ordered by the European Commission (EC) to present a Browser Choice screen to users as part of an antitrust case against the company. The Microsoft Browser Ballot screen rolled out in early 2010 to provide users of its Windows operating system (XP, Vista and Windows 7) a choice of web browsers, including Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome and, of course, its own Internet Explorer browser. By agreeing to the deal with the EC, Microsoft was to avoid having to pay millions in further anti-trust fines.

The solution should be simple. Ban Internet Explorer. It is made by a company which breaks the law repeatedly, for decades. Avoidance of the law helps the company make more money than by complying. So the last resort is the blacklist.

Remember that many people — honest people — lost their job as a result of Microsoft’s criminal behaviour. These are not victimless crimes where only computer users suffer. True justice will never be restored (e.g. reparations or jail time for the perpetrators), but one can strive to it.

“Where are we on this Jihad?”

Bill Gates

Ubuntu Decided to Stay With GPLv3 After Public Backlash

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Ubuntu at 12:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Defeating barriers to GNU/Linux booting

No entry

Summary: The FSF posts an update on Ubuntu and its decision to keep GRUB

Ubuntu decided to provide details on partitioning new (GPT) hard disks when using UEFI firmware. Canonical did this after it had helped legitimise the anticompetitive scheme.

Stallman et al. have been critical of UEFI support and the FSF has this update which says:

Ubuntu has decided to stick with GRUB 2 after all; 48 organizations and over 37,000 people have signed the statement opposing Restricted Boot, but Microsoft’s new tablet is hitting stores.

Think twice before purchasing Microsoft’s new ARM-based tablet, especially if you are hoping to replace the new Windows RT operating system, with a free software operating system such as GNU/Linux or Android. These new devices ship with Restricted Boot, which prevents you from installing free software on the device.

If it wasn’t for public pressure, Ubuntu would not have kept its original bootloader which is licensed under the GPLv3. We must therefore continue to pressure Canonical to remove the antifeature which is Amazon spyware in desktop (local disk) search. Canonical does respond to pressure, even if it never admits this (Yahoo search is one example, but Mono may be another).

“Idiots can be defeated but they never admit it.”

Richard Stallman

Links 2/11/2012: Fedora Delays, LibreOffice 3.6.3, OpenBSD 5.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • 4 millions Windows 8 upgrades, that’s not much!
  • Microsoft’s New Cloud and Mobile Approach Uses Same Old Lock-in Strategy
  • Think cloud computing saved you from Sandy? Think again.

    It makes little sense for any Internet business to be dependent on a single data center. With server virtualization it is possible to put images of your server here and there to cover almost any failover problem. Not just multiple servers but multiple servers on multiple backbones in multiple cities supported by multiple power companies and backed by multiple generators. We do that even here at I, Cringely and we’re known to be idiots.

  • Abacus adds up to number joy in Japan
  • FTC Declares Rachel From Cardholder Services ‘Enemy Number 1′; Files Complaints Against Five Scammy Robocollers
  • Health/Nutrition

    • OPINION: Who wins with Medicare Advantage?

      The big five health insurance companies have begun reporting their third quarter 2012 earnings and so far, they are pleasing their shareholders with profits that are better than Wall Street expected, in large part because they are doing especially well in one key area: Medicare.


      A Romney-Ryan victory likely would be the equivalent of winning the lottery for the big institutional investors that own the majority of health insurance company stock. Citigroup analyst Carl McDonald predicts that should Romney win and the GOP take the Senate, the value of health insurers’ shares would rise 10 to 20 percent.

    • Is the Junk Food Industry Buying the WHO?

      The US Food and Drug Administration is notorious for bowing to food-industry interests at the expense of public health. Consider the case of trans fats—whose damaging effects the FDA ignored for decades under industry pressure before finally taking action in 2006, a story I told here. Then there’s the barrage of added sweeteners that have entered the US diet over the last two decades, while the FDA whistled. This week, Cristin Kearns Couzens and Gary Taubes, who has been writing hard-hitting pieces on the dangers of excess sweetener consumption for a while, have a blockbuster Mother Jones story documenting how the FDA rolled over for the food industry on added sweeteners.

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Why are there no famous financial whistleblowers in this crisis?

      This column discusses one of the more subtle issues raised by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) civil fraud action against Bank of America (B of A). The issue was so subtle that of the three articles about the lawsuit that I choose to review the night after the suit was filed, only the NYT article mentioned one of the most important aspects of the suit – the key role that the whistleblower played in making the action possible. The AP and the WSJ articles ignored the fact.

      The lawsuit threatens to impose steep fines on the bank. The Justice Department filed the case under the False Claims Act, which could provide for triple the damages suffered by Fannie and Freddie, a penalty that could reach more than $3 billion.

      The act also provides an avenue for a Countrywide whistle-blower, Edward J. O’Donnell, to cash in. Under the act, the government can piggyback on accusations he filed in a lawsuit that was kept under seal until now.

      Mr. O’Donnell, who lives in Pennsylvania, was an executive vice president for Countrywide before leaving the company in 2009. The government’s case in part hinges on the credibility of his claims.

    • Sharp admits ‘material doubt’ on survival
    • Welfare cuts will lead to shortfall in affordable homes

      Decrease in government spending set to leave low income families with a stark choice: buy less food or move out

    • Barclays faces record £290m penalty
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Getting the facts straight in the parental controls debate

      It’s useful to note that Westminster Hall debates aren’t particularly formal interventions or statements of the Government’s policy. They are secured by MPs who want to discuss something important to them, and can indicate MPs feelings and signal to the Government what Parliamenarians’ priorities might be.

      But even though it’s just a Westminster Hall debate, it seemed important to note that I spotted Claire Perry MP citing a statistic that I haven’t seen before, and which got my spidey senses tingling. She suggests that the number of parents installing network filters at home has dropped ten percent over the past three years, standing now at 39%.

    • Syria Using US Gear to Block Web

      A U.S. company that makes Internet-blocking gear acknowledges that Syria has been using at least 13 of its devices to censor Web activity there—an admission that comes as the Syrian government cracks down on its citizens and silences their online activities.

    • Journalist Attempts To Silence Criticism Of Her Ethics By Brandishing The Club Of UK Defamation Laws

      Defamation is only supposed to apply to cases where there’s a factually false statement made about someone. It shouldn’t apply to cases where the facts are accurate, or the statements are opinions. But while the US’s defamation laws generally deal pretty well with this, it’s not as clear elsewhere. The UK, unfortunately, is somewhat famous for its bad defamation laws, where the burden is generally on the accused to prove they didn’t defame someone — which can be an expensive process. Over the past week or so, video gaming journalists and industry watchers have been dealing with a bit of controversy. Eurogamer columnist Rab Florence wrote a column questioning the close relationship between some gaming journalists and the companies they cover, where it sometimes seems like the journalists are pitch people, rather than objective journalists. This is not a new concern, especially in video game journalism, where such accusations tend to show up pretty regularly (sometimes more accurately than others).

    • Lost Humanity 18: A Table of Doritos
  • Privacy

    • The Kremlin’s New Internet Surveillance Plan Goes Live Today
    • CJOnline ordered to release poster’s information

      A Shawnee County District Court judge has ordered The Topeka Capital-Journal to relinquish identifying information of a CJOnline.com commenter claiming to be a juror in a high-profile murder trial.

      District Judge Steven Ebberts on Friday denied the newspaper’s request to quash the district attorney’s subpoena for the information. As a result, CJOnline will have to release the poster’s name, address and Internet Protocol address to the district attorney.

  • Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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