03.24.13

IRC Proceedings: March 17th, 2013-March 23rd, 2013

Posted in IRC Logs at 11:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: March 17th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: March 18th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: March 19th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: March 20th, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: March 21st, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: March 22nd, 2013

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IRC Proceedings: March 23rd, 2013

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Enter the IRC channels now

Software Patents and Thickets in Asia, Europe

Posted in Asia, Europe, RAND at 11:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Globe

Summary: Negotiations over laws which can spread patent policy to more continents (other than America and to a lesser degree Australia)

We have been tracking the globalisation of the patent system for quite some time (this subject was covered here many times before) and also discussed in a high level of detail what was being done in Europe. Perhaps being a European-centric site is the outcome of yours truly being European, but in any event, the problem is global.

The USPTO, an instrument of US corporations of large size, wishes to expand its scope of monopolies not just in terms of how abstract a patent can be but also what geographical locations (scope) the patent becomes applicable in.

There is a lot of OS news from China these days, notably Microsoft bribery and a Ubuntu-based national operating system. But recently we wrote about China following the wrong path on patents and this page says that China is now talking about patents in standards, i.e. something like FRAND. To quote:

On March 7th, USITO and representatives of local and foreign trade organizations and companies attended a meeting co-organized by the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) and the China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS) to discuss comment submissions on the Regulatory Measures on National Standards Involving Patents (Measures).

Standards should involve no patents. It is as simple as that. To require patents to merely implement standards is to be anticompetitive. FRAND-type policies also tend to serve as opportunity for software patenting where such patents are not legal. There are other such loopholes, the unitary patent in Europe for instance. Glyn Moody wrote about it just the other day, complaining about lack of proper analysis of the impact on Europe.

In other words, despite all the grand talk about how wonderful the Unitary Patent would be for Europe, that’s only potentially true if most patents are issued to European companies. As the latest EPO report makes clear, it’s companies outside the EU that are increasingly being granted patents here. That means the EU has just created a powerful new rod for its own back that will allow US and Asian multinationals to gain patents more cheaply and sue local companies more easily. And given the US experience, we can be sure they will.

But those at the EPO needn’t worry: they’ll probably still get their patent inflation bonuses next year, regardless of the knock-on consequences for European businesses. Whether that will be much comfort if your company gets sued under the Unitary Patent scheme in the years to come is another matter….

The pursuit of software parents everywhere (through FRAND and other means of globalising patent tax) is definitely noteworthy. A lot of money flows in the direction of very few people and new, small companies are not permitted to compete in the market unless they can overcome patent thickets.

OOXML in Norway and Sarkozy-Gates Corruption Over OOXML Return to Discussion Amid Bribery Stories

Posted in Bill Gates, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 10:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ooxml_demo_4.jpg

Summary: Recalling the older corruption of Microsoft and Bill Gates, especially in light of some news from Europe

A

n anonymous Scandinavian reader wrote to tell us that Microsoft “has gotten inside the Norwegian public sector.” For context he gives these two links [1, 2] and reminds us that; “In 2007, Norway required that editable documents be in ODF within the state agencies. Now they’re following the “Microsoft too” tactic and “also” permitting OOXML and removing the requirement for ODF. Apparently the head of Microsoft Norway has had a series of closed meetings with the state council(?) (statsråden).

“”statsråden” is minister, but I don’t know which one. It would be good to hear from NUUG because they are the main opposition to the change.

“Apparently the king helped slam it through. Your country has royalty still. How does that complicate matters or does it affect things at all?

“Google Translate does an ok job.”

We wrote about OOXML-related abuses in Norway in posts such as this one. Citing the new article titled “DoJ, SEC investigating Microsoft over bribery claims” Pamela Jones writes: “While they are at it, I wish they’d look into the French about-face on OOXML.”

Nicolas Sarkozy and OOXML scandals in France were covered here before. Here are some of the more notable posts about it:

  1. More on France and Microsoft’s OOXML; ODF Still a Leader
  2. White-Collar Crime Pays Off, Shows Microsoft OOXML
  3. Hewlett-Packard Does Microsoft’s Dirty Job Again, Lobbies for the Monopoly
  4. Guilty Parties in OOXML Fiasco in France Gets Exposed (Updated)

Separately, adds Jones: “The first thing I thought of was France doing a 180 on OOXML, after reports of a phone call from Bill Gates to Sarkozy and the AFNOR letter from Microsoft France mentioning telephone contacts, the letter sent the day before the OOXML vote deadline. By the way, notice in that last link how Microsoft behaved at meetings of AFNOR, according to Frederick:

Q: Last August there were some reports that the AFNOR commission meetings were heated. Can you tell us anything about that?
Couchet: On August 29th 2007 the AFNOR standardization commission meeting took place with the objective of establishing the position of the commission and therefore consequently France’s position. The exchanges were stormy at some points since Marc Mosse, head of Legal and Public Affairs at Microsoft France, did everything, I thought, he could to sabotage the meeting. Marc Mossé, judging from appearances, seemed to have the very clear assignment to obtain AFNOR’s abstention. Absolutely not constructive, not very polite either, in particular with the representatives of the French administration, Marc Mosse seemed to have decided to ruin the meeting and heighten the pressure — well-known tactic to block the arrival at a consensus. But he did too much, way too much. The end was pitiful enough, notably when he accused one of the State’s representatives of serving a “banana republic”. He claimed by the way to be representing local administrations against the central administration. The resume of Marc Mosse is online but strangely, his stint at the BSA, the Business Software Alliance, is not mentioned in it. The meeting of March 25th 2008 was much more calm and cordial, perhaps because of the absence of Marc Mosse.
Does that not remind you of the behavior this month of those who seemed determined to disrupt Google’s presentations regarding Vp8 so as to avoid consensus, including the one on IPR?” (we just wrote about this in the previous post).

That last part we may cover in a separate post. Why is the English-speaking press not covering these scandals?

At ZDNet this month, Microsoft employee Jason Perlow has been actively bashing Android and promoting Microsoft products under the guise of ‘journalism’ (no links given, on purpose). This is a farce. Corruption is allowed to carry on because real journalism is left for sites like Groklaw to do while Perlow smears those real journalists.

Boycott Nokia for Attacking Free Software, FFII’s President Suggests

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 10:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Attacking Free (as in freedom) codecs, Free software, Free operating systems like Android, etc.

Benjamin Henrion

Summary: Nokia’s patent attacks on free/open source software, especially after the virtual Microsoft takeover, make it prime for a “good boycott”

In an earlier post we mentioned how Google got not only extorted but also interrupted and disrupted when it presented a patent-free codec. “If you think Google is the enemy, go watch the attacks on their IETF presentations about MTI codec choice for WebRTC,” writes Simon Phipps on Twitter. Here is the recording. “Watch how the MPEG LA H.264 people rudely interrupt Google’s presentation until the moderator intervenes and tells them to wait to the end,” wrote Pamela Jones. “They are rude at the end too. Same thing happened, the rudeness, with the first slide talk, VP8-MTI. The Google representative says that the sublicense will be ready soon, and it will be royalty-free, thanks to the recent agreement Google entered into with MPEG LA on March 6. Notice how pleasant Google’s guys are. Nokia stands up, declares it’s not part of any agreement and seems to be claiming to have patents that VP8 would infringe. Cf. here. How hideous Nokia has become, now that it’s Microsoft’s little brother. Here are some documents Google made available just before the day of the talks, after the proprietary side began asking for a postponement of any MTI video codec discussion.”

“Nokia is attacking Android directly, not just indirectly.”Nokia is also named in this good Slashdot post. “Nokia patents creates [sic] barriers for a free video codec for the web, Nokia needs to a good boycott,” wrote the FFII’s president.

Nokia is now a pawn of Microsoft, so forget about the old Nokia in order to avoid confusion. The brand is the same, the people in charge are different (several Microsoft executives). Watch what Nokia is doing. There are people who had worked for Microsoft before they came to Nokia and fought against non-patented codecs in HTML. “Nokia discloses their patents on VP8/WebM” is how one reader described the situation to us, having also fought against Ogg. Nokia is attacking Android directly, not just indirectly. On Android, for example, my SIP clients use VP8, so this is important.

Here is another update on Nokia’s anti-Android lawsuit in Germany. We saw that coming as soon as the Nokia-Microsoft deal was announced.

Why Samsung Hardware With UEFI Boot Gets Bricked by Linux

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Samsung at 9:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Image via SCALE

Matthew Garrett

Summary: Dr. Matthew Garrett explains that not Microsoft’s imposition of UEFI but Samsung itself is to blame for the bad name Linux got from a recent technical cockup

“The problem with Samsung laptops bricking themselves turned out to be down to the UEFI variable store becoming more than 50% full and Samsung’s firmware being dreadful,” Matthew Garrett wrote after he had defended UEFI Restricted Boot. It is rather embarrassing for the UK that support for UEFI or Microsoft apologism comes from him. This news was noted by this London based site:

In a blog post describing the use of UEFI variables for debugging purposes, Matthew Garrett mentions that the memory for UEFI variables being filled up by more than fifty per cent is thought to be the reason why Samsung notebooks will no longer boot and may require repair in certain conditions – for example after starting some Linux distributions with UEFI, or after executing a Windows test program that stores information in the UEFI firmware. The Linux kernel developer and UEFI specialist investigated why even booting some Linux distributions can sometimes cause device failure and has written a Windows program that will brick certain Samsung notebooks.

Here is another British article:

Former Red Hatter Matthew Garrett, who cleared Linux’s name when the open-source kernel appeared to cause shiny new Samsung laptops to destroy themselves, has offered a survival guide to avoid similar catastrophes.

Nebula programmer Garrett this week warned that Samsung laptops may brick themselves if the computer’s UEFI firmware variable storage space is more than 50 per cent full.

The firmware is the first thing that executes when the computer is switched on; its job is to power up the hardware and start the operating system, be it a Linux distro, Windows, Mac OS X, BSD or alternatives. But if the Samsung UEFI firmware’s variable storage is less than half empty, apparently the machine will end up refusing to start. The trigger? “Writing a crash dump to the NVRAM [non-volatile random access memory],” Garrett said.

Let’s remind ourselves why UEFI was used there in the first place. It was Microsoft’s idea and it has given some GNU/Linux users a bricked computer. It gave many others a hard time and gave GNU/Linux a bad name. Microsoft executives must be laughing deep inside. Nobody filed a complaint against them. Once again they get away with it.

UEFI has become somewhat symbolic of the power Microsoft got over OEMs, even when people are fed up with the latest versions of Windows and OEMs explore their possibilities with GNU/Linux. To play by Microsoft’s rules is to handicap our own judgment and to perpetuate the power play of thuggish executives inside the software monopolist.

Microsoft Skype Gives Everyone’s Location, Enabling DDOS Attacks

Posted in Microsoft, Security at 9:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Large headphones

Summary: Microsoft refuses to fix a DDOS risk which it knows about

Several years ago, before Microsoft acquired Skype, I had run some network monitoring tools and found out that Skype was revealing people’s IP addresses very liberally. It was quite shocking at the time, partly because it connects people in each others’ lists like they are some kind of botnet. The ISP can easily map this to show associations between people and their physical locations. Now this is characterised as a security issue in Skype — one that Microsoft refuses to address:

It’s been more than a year since the WSJ reported that Skype leaks its users’ IP addresses and locations. Microsoft has done nothing to fix this since, and as Brian Krebs reports, the past year has seen the rise of several tools that let you figure out someone’s IP address by searching for him on Skype, then automate launching denial-of-service attacks on that person’s home.

I had noticed this well before the WSJ wrote about it and these days I use Linphone on the desktop, tablet, and phone. There are other SIP clients which are good and do not infringe people’s rights to privacy, among other human rights.

Microsoft Price Gouging Allegations in Australia, Parliament Grilling Takes Place

Posted in Australia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 9:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rusty nails

Summary: A case of business abuse in the former British colony made relevant now that the UK ponders dumping Microsoft

In the UK, FOSS proponents celebrate a government interim decision to favour FOSS wherever possible. Microsoft likes to bribe, so we must keep a close eye on what’s happening. Meanwhile, says this report from the British press, Microsoft is under fire in Australia, a debt-saddled nation, for price gouging in government:

Adobe and Microsoft’s Australia’s managing directors have both struggled to answer hours of tough questions from Australia’s Parliamentary inquiry into IT pricing.

Apple’s Tony King was the first witness to front members of parliament for ninety minutes today of MPs today, and acquitted himself well.

Every morning on the radio I hear about our government’s plan to cut ‘spendings’ on benefits for the poor. Rarely is it suggested that Microsoft contracts get dropped and Britain made dependent only on itself for software.

SUSE in Microsoft’s Fog Computing

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OpenSUSE, Red Hat at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Love

Summary: A new OpenSUSE is out and it is in Microsoft’s Azure lock-in, helping Microsoft tax GNU/Linux while controlling it entirely

The Microsoft-funded SUSE gets integrated with Microsoft Azure following a lot of Azure openwashing. The VAR Guy says this may be part of a bigger battle, fought between Linux and Ballnux (Ballmer-taxed Linux). To quote his new article:

Red Hat and SUSE are shifting their old Linux battle to a new market: Big Data. Both open source companies made major Big Data statements this week, but they are attacking the market using completely different strategies. Here’s what channel partners need to know.

Techrights ignored the release of OpenSUSE this month. It ought to be remembered that the role of SUSE as a whole, now financially tied to Microsoft, is to normalise Microsoft ‘Linux tax’. This site was founded to oppose exactly that.

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