03.25.13

Links 25/3/2013: GNU/Linux Migration in Boston Education, KDE in Outreach Program for Women

Posted in News Roundup at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • Thinking aloud: The Price of Hardware Quality

      Some years ago, we had (one may say) good, classic brands of computers, and others not so good. The price of ones and others vary. An original IBM PC was very expensive (all computers were, at the beginning), but clones came cheaper.

      Quality was also quite well divided by boundaries, and followed the quality and durability of the equipment. A Toshiba, or HP, Compaq, etc., machine was considered of good (hardware) quality, and last as long as what you expected for the money you had paid. Maybe some of you still have one of those running a minimal GNU/Linux distribution today because the hardware lasted. (Image Credit: http://www.whitesettlement.lib.tx.us)

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Miracle grow: Indian farmers smash crop yield records without GMOs

      What if the agricultural revolution has already happened and we didn’t realize it? Essentially, that’s the idea in this report from the Guardian about a group of poverty-stricken Indian rice and potato farmers who harvested confirmed world-record yields of rice and potatoes. Best of all: They did it completely sans-GMOs or even chemicals of any kind.

  • Security

    • Windows Malware Takes Advantage of Weak Linux Setups
    • NSA Critiques Public Key Cryptography

      Revelation of the early public key cryptography work of James Ellis, Malcolm Williamson and Cliff Cocks at GCHQ occurred in 1997, eleven years after this secret 1986 review cites them. Whitfield Diffie, one of the inventors or PKC, commented in 1999 on the British precursors:

    • NSA INFOSEC Excitement

      Some time ago, while I was having lunch with the Director of Security of one of our NATO allies and we were discussing the rash of books on intelligence agencies such as the CIA and Britain’s MI-5 and MI-6 that were flooding bookstores, he asked, “Why aren’t there more best selling books on INFOSEC?” I replied, “It’s because the best days we have in INFOSEC are when nothing exciting happens in the outside world. When we are successful, which we are most ofthe time, the result is a non-event.”

    • CMU, NSA search for student hackers

      …participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the challenge.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

    • Wikileaks: Power and Consent. Raimond Gaita
    • ‘Pentagon Papers’ whistleblower defends WikiLeaks ‘hero’ Manning

      Sydney, Mar 25 (ANI): Former American military analyst and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has backed US Army private accused Bradley Manning for spilling secrets to website WikiLeaks.

    • Vietnam whistleblower defends WikiLeaks

      PENTAGON Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg waited decades for someone like Bradley Manning to follow in his footsteps.

      He hails the US Army private accused of spilling secrets to website WikiLeaks as a champion of truth and not a betrayer of his country.

    • In Leak Case, State Secrecy in Plain Sight
    • New York Times Understand Historical Import of Manning Trial – FINALLY
    • Only a Few Reporters Have Bothered to Truly Confront Secrecy in Bradley Manning’s Court Martial

      Just over one year ago, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) sent a letter to the military judge presiding over Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court martial that decried the “lack of openness” in proceedings. It condemned the fact that “documents and information filed in the case” were “not available to the public anywhere.” It complained about the failure to give the public proper “notice of issues to be litigated in the case.”

      The US Army did not respond appropriately to the letter. The military court at Fort Meade rebuffed an attempt by a CCR attorney to make a statement on press and public access to proceedings on April 24. The same day the military judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, issued a ruling that invoked Nixon v. Time Warner, a case involving press access to the Watergate tapes, to justify secrecy in the proceedings, and she said the Freedom of Information Act was available to the press if they wanted records. CCR filed a lawsuit in May about a month later (which I signed on to as a plaintiff).

  • Finance

    • Russian Billionaire In Exile Boris Berezovsky Commits Suicide – The First Cyprus Casualty?

      Just your ordinary run of the mill Russian billionaire oligarch in exile who had so much money he was terminally depressed… or just the opposite, and the first tragic casualty of the Cyprus capital controls which are about to eviscerate a whole lot of Russian wealth (and ultraluxury Manhattan real estate prices)?

    • The Cyprus Cartoon Catalog
    • The future of the NHS—irreversible privatisation?

      JILL MOUNTFORD: Lucy, can you explain to us what is going on right now? The Health and Social Care Act has been law now for almost a year, and we thought surely that’s all going to go ahead. All of a sudden there is a lot of movement, a lot of anxiety and a lot of agitation around something that’s happening in parliament that’s going to have a big effect on the National Health Service. What is it and why?

    • Will Goldman Sachs Celebrate Its Latest Victory at a Strip Club?

      Goldman Sachs won a huge victory yesterday. A federal court ruled that Lisa Parisi, a former managing director, must take her gender-discrimination lawsuit against the firm to arbitration.

      With the ruling, Parisi — who had sued Goldman in 2010, along with two other women — can kiss her chances of victory goodbye. Arbitration is where plaintiffs’ dreams go to die, which is probably why it was in her Goldman Sachs employment contract.

      These plaintiffs aren’t renegade feminists. They’re mainstream financial types who played by the rules and hoped to reap the rewards. The men who fought them are simply corporate types who prefer to keep Wall Street an old boys’ club.

      Some of the allegations in the suit are straight out of “Mad Men.” During their work at Goldman Sachs, the women were subject to sexual banter, which is what passes for conversation among traders, as well as to come-ons and sexual assaults. They were passed over for promotions and bonuses, excluded from some male outings and included in others designed to embarrass them. A celebration for new managing directors was held at a topless bar. Afterwards, a married male colleague pinned one of the plaintiffs to a wall and sexually assaulted her.

    • Goldman gets go-ahead for ‘banking factory’

      Goldman Sachs has been granted approval to build a new “banking factory” in the City, ending a protracted bid to develop the site that was held up by protected murals on the existing building.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • On corporate persons

      And like other giant corporations it already has personhood.

      What makes Google so all-powerful? So Visible? So very Google?

      Are various administrations and Yes, I’m thinking Obama’s, simply afraid of it and the people who run it?

      Is it grandiose?

      Is it a part of the Gobal Elite?

      If Google was Good …

      Google could be everything it touts itself as being — a good company providing genuine services, constantly trying to improve the ‘user experience’.

      It could revolutionise the world of business by being completely transparent in all respects, completely open in its dealings with the people it depends on — you and I — and completely up-front about what it does and how it does it.

      It certainly has enough in the way of hard cash and other reso

    • O’Reilly Demands Respect for the Pagan Goddess Eostre

      Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly (O’Reilly Factor, 3/21/13), claiming victory in the “War on Christmas,” declares that the new battle is the “War on Easter.”

  • Censorship

    • Groups unite to condemn Leveson law

      The Leveson Inquiry was set up to address “the culture, practices and ethics of the press, including contacts between the press and politicians and the press and the police”. Our views diverge on whether the outcome of the Leveson process — and the plans for a new regulator — are the best way forward. But where we all agree is that current attempts at regulating blogs and other small independent news websites are critically flawed.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • “Gaming” can be avoided: bloggers can be protected from the Crime and Courts Bill

      We’re told that politicians are concerned, exempting small and medium size businesses from the Bill could lead to “gaming”. That is, a large publisher could create small subsidiaries to avoid the Leveson sticks applying to them. We believe this can be avoided. The Companies Act anticipates “gaming”, and includes protections against it.

    • Constable wants tougher stance on US defense act

      The American Civil Liberties Union describe the 2012 NDAA as “codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president – and all future presidents – to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield,” it continues. “The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.”

      Quiggle made it a written policy last May that he would not cooperate with this portion of the NDAA in his position as constable.

    • Letter: An affront to freedom

      Even the U.S. secretary of defense has expressed misgivings about the NDAA.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Google sued for trademark infringement by ‘Android’ watchmaker company

        It seems suing for trademark infringement is really a prevalent game in the business world. Oko International, the maker of a wide range of watches and timepieces sold under the brand name ‘Android,’ is suing the giant Google for trademark infringement.

        A recent rumor in many tech sites is that Google is reportedly building a smartwatch to compete with Apple and Samsung.

    • Copyrights

      • Spanish Government Bows Down To US Pressures Again, Pushes SOPA-Like Law To Appease Hollywood

        While Spain actually has a fairly vibrant culture and entertainment industry, Hollywood has really had it in for the country for some time, in part because Spanish courts had a more evolved recognition of secondary liability protections, such that they ruled that linking is not infringement, and that neither was basic file sharing. Hollywood flipped out, said all sorts of nasty things about Spain, and US diplomats basically handed the Spanish government a new copyright law. The first few attempts to pass the bill failed, after the public spoke out, economists explained how it would hurt the economy rather than help and even the head of the Spanish Film Academy noted that the American movie industry seemed to be fighting the internet and the public.

Systemic Corruption, Secrecy, and Discrimination in Patent Systems

Posted in Patents at 9:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents as sector-centric monopoly instrument

Monopoly

Summary: Patent stories of interest show systemic flaws that harm everyone for the benefit of few

ABOUT a decade ago I became cynical about the patent system that I was previously apathetic towards as I had never learned its true nature, except from corporate media which likes to glorify patents, making them synonymous with innovation, progress, genius, and national pride. Today it is easier to find the media expressing dissatisfaction with patents — more so than when this Web site was first popular (2007) or when it was launched (2006). We need to amplify opposition to the status quo if we are ever to achieve progress.

This post has a collection of last week’s articles, all critical of the framework of litigation which enforces patents and reduces competition. The patent systems around the world are connected but separable. Their power is derived from multinational corporations. Apple and Microsoft, for instance, use patent stacking to suppress a rival, Linux/Android. The Philips-backed Intermedia is meanwhile suing Apple (Philips competes with Apple in media devices), which itself is suing Android and wants secrecy. This secrecy is being fought against:

Abraham Lincoln advised lawyers that the best thing they could do for a client was to keep him out of litigation. Steve Jobs should have listened to that excellent advice, from one genius to another, so to speak. But he didn’t, and he decided to start thermonuclear war to try to destroy Android, using litigation as the weapon of choice.

After Steve Jobs died, I read an article that quoted his widow as saying something to the effect that just because someone is a genius in one area, it didn’t mean he was a genius in all areas. I found that a charmingly honest statement that all wives for sure would understand, with all its overtones and undertones reverberating in the air. One thing that watching Jobs’ plan to destroy Android play out in courtrooms has made obvious: he was not a genius at the law. Unquestionably, the Apple brand has been damaged by the litigation against Samsung.

And it may be about to get worse. Here’s what is threatening to happen next: The parties were in agreement that the district court was unsealing too many company secrets and both are appealing to the Federal Circuit to keep things sealed. They agreed that they don’t want to stand naked before the world, with all their trade secrets exposed. Unfortunately for them, they happened to draw two judges who believe litigants have to endure more of a spotlight than they might enjoy if they choose to litigate, because the public has rights too. Who knew that would happen? Clearly not Apple, a company that is known for its secretiveness. And the appeals court has just ruled that an eager band of journalists will be allowed to argue against sealing of the parties’ relevant documents at the upcoming oral argument on the point on March 26.

Here is a news report about it:

A coalition of media advocacy groups and news organizations will be allowed to argue at an upcoming federal appeals court hearing over document secrecy in Apple Inc’s high-stakes patent litigation against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Samsung is no angel either. It pays Microsoft for Linux and it is said to be going after a company which, while using Android in its devices, also sues Android players using patents. To quote some patent lawyers, “Samsung not only accuses Ericsson of breaching its FRAND obligations (an accusation it has previously made), but also asserts additional patents against Ericsson — including patents already being asserted in the ITC.”

The ITC does nothing for customers. For the most part it has been used by Microsoft and Apple to block competition. Europe is becoming increasingly worried about Apple’s behaviour:

Apple put under Europe’s microscope after iPhone antitrust complaints

There’s no formal investigation yet, but Europe’s competition watchdog is looking at Apple’s iPhone deals with the continent’s mobile carriers.

CAFC, another legal instrument with pro-patents bias, is rapidly losing respect:

Federal judges “get no respect” in patent appeals—but that may change

No court has more power over patent laws than the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all patent appeals. In an order released Friday, that court stated its intention to revisit one of the most controversial legal principles in patent law: the “de novo” review of all claim construction decisions.

As Adrienne Kendrick notes another examples of patents costing a fortune Steve Forbes slams the USPTO et al. by writing the following about the Microsoft- and Apple-backed MPEG-LA in particular:

America’s patent system is all wrong for today’s high-tech world

It’s no secret that the Obama administration is looking for excuses to regulate and intervene in the free market, whether it is telecommunications, energy, homeland security or everything else.

And unfortunately, there are “bad actors” in the technology community that are inviting increased scrutiny of their business practices and abuses. Patent pooling – or agreements between two or more companies to collectively license patents for specific technologies – is a fairly common practice among device companies.

These for-profit pools are formed only following a business review by the Department of Justice, which agrees not to initiate antitrust enforcement against them if they operate fairly and adhere to a set of mutually agreed upon terms for operation. When structured and operated in accordance to the guidelines under which pools were formed, these organizations reduce the amount of intellectual property investment by the companies who use them, benefiting consumers with lower prices and helping to spur innovation.

[...]

These are companies you’ve never heard of – companies like MPEG LA and Mobile Media – which license technologies to innovators in the form of patent pools. Technologies like the MPEG 2 video format – which is likely used in the very device you have in your back pocket – should be offered at a fair and reasonable fee.

Yet, these unscrupulous patent pools lock in licensors for extraordinarily long terms at rates which don’t reflect their near-valueless expired patents. MPEG LA has absolute power over the MPEG 2 technology, and innovators are forced to accept MPEG LA’s license fees and terms regardless of actual patent value.

Think of it this way: The Motorola RAZR has evolved from a simple flip phone to a dynamic touch screen smart phone in the last decade. While the technologies that made this evolution possible certainly build off each other, consumers would no longer pay the same price for a Motorola RAZR V3 today as they would have when it was first released. But this is what MPEG LA is asking of companies – to pay full price for patents that are expiring, rather than reflecting the current marketplace.

These license fees erect barriers to entry for small and medium sized tech startup companies, and these companies cannot afford to sink millions in IP like many larger corporations.
This is especially harmful to those small business startups that are most reliant on gaining access to patent pool technologies, the very startups that create jobs and fuel innovation here in America. MPEG LA’s manipulative price structures are not only standing in the way of consumers being afforded access to these new innovations, they are also driving up prices on devices that are currently available.

[...]

If companies like MPEG LA and Mobile Media do not amend these unscrupulous business practices, the Department of Justice will have no choice but to intervene, inevitably slowing down innovation and creating even more barriers for a fast-moving marketplace.

We are encouraged to see more mainstream publications, even right-wing propaganda sites like Fox, publicly criticising patent systems and pools.

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