Key Question: Is Bundling Proper?

“The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is expected to rule within weeks on the practice of forced sale of licences for operating systems and other software bundled with computing devices. On 25 June, France’s Court of cassation referred to the CJEU a complaint of a French citizen who wanted to purchase a PC without any pre-installed operating system.”
See EU court to decide on PC and software bundling
Of course, bundling an OS with a PC makes sense in many cases. Most consumers, for instance, can’t or don’t want to install an OS. In many cases, bundling makes no sense:

  • anyone who wants to install his own OS, and
  • folks rolling out a gazillion PCs with whatever OS.

In both cases, bundling is either a restraint of trade or simply a wasted motion. You don’t paint a house green only to paint it red if you have any sense. The right way to do IT is to make your choice and buy/acquire what you need to accomplish your goals in the most efficient manner possible. Bundling exclusively That Other OS with all PCs was only good for an illegal monopolist and its “partners” in crime. This is not about denying businesses profits. It’s about competition in the market and freedom for users/buyers to have choice.

It’s so sad that this crime has taken so many decades to surface in the courts. All these years no one has been protecting consumers. It’s always been about protecting parties to the crime… When I complained to the Canadian government about bundling I was told I had no standing to complain because I was a consumer and not a competitor of M$. Bundling protected M$ from competition laws around the world because they had a layer of deniability, the OEMs. The OEMs could not be shown to be an organized criminal gang because they were just “doing business” with M$. Convenient and wrong. M$ was always the puppet-master. Let’s see whether a European court can get it right. Let’s see how big a cut to M$’s revenues for client OS the right decision makes. This could be the biggest shot in the “ARM” for GNU/Linux ever if consumers all over the world finally have the choice to buy or install GNU/Linux without paying M$ for the privilege.

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Smartphones Are The New PC And */Linux Rules

“Smartphones first accounted for more than 50% of total quarterly cellphone shipments in the first quarter of 2013. In fourth-quarter 2015, smartphones are forecast to reach 435 million units or 80% of total cellphones shipped, according to IC Insights. On an annual basis, smartphones first surpassed the 50% penetration level in 2013 (54%) and are forecast to represent 93% of total cellphone shipments in 2018.”
See Smartphones to represent 80% of total handset shipments in 4Q15
See StatCounter
According to Digitimes and StatCounter the smartphone is the new PC and */Linux is the winner in a competitive market for client operating systems. That Other OS is still ahead in total share of client OS page-views but is in decline while Linux operating systems grow by high single digits.

This is what the PC-market could have resembled if M$ had not been granted a monopoly by IBM and used illegal means to leverage itself into every corner of IT for decades. Competition is good for everyone. Mass murder of operating systems and intimidation of OEMs was the crime of the century. Thank Goodness we are done with that. The only thing which is a dark cloud over IT is that M$ is still in business rather than having been jailed by governments around the world for restraint of trade.

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Courage, Conviction and Freedom

“A woman scaled a flagpole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse on Saturday morning and removed the Confederate battle flag.”
See Woman Removes Confederate Flag In Front Of South Carolina Statehouse
I love many kinds of technology. The best technologies make “impossible” become “easy”. The lady appears to have used a couple of Prusiks to alternately support her weight from her waist and foot. With no weight, the knot is easily loosened to slide up or down the pole. With weight, the knot tightens and can support an amazing force. It takes courage to put your weight on a thin rope or strap, but a wise person uses two or more so if one fails, the other can catch and hold.

The same things are true of Free Software. Because it costs so little and there is no central authourity, many fear Free Software, but it’s the right way to do IT. The whole world can make its own software and share it freely. We don’t need a slave-master. Take down the slave-master’s flag on your computers. Be Free.

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Undermining That Other OS

“The National Security Agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, have worked to subvert anti-virus and other security software in order to track users and infiltrate networks, according to documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.”
See Popular Security Software Came Under Relentless NSA and GCHQ Attacks
I’ve been writing for ages that governments should promote FLOSS and GNU/Linux. It’s the right way to do IT after all. However, governments tend not to do the right thing in straightforward ways. Take IT-security, for instance. It used to be that the NSA gave us Tor and Selinux to make the world a better place… Then came “9/11″ and it all changed. The NSA became deeply paranoid and “out to get us”.

Given That Other OS is just about everywhere and is helpless without anti-malware software, the NSA and others have studied the anti-malware software to exploit it as a back door to TOOS… Ironic, isn’t it? M$ lobbies governments endlessly by fair means and foul to prevent being banned from global markets while those governments use TOOS to spy on friends and enemies… Europe is practically fleeing Wintel. The rest of the world is over ~1% utilization on the desktop with no need for salesmen. India uses GNU/Linux at work. Uruguay uses it widely in schools. M$ has had its client OS on a slippery slope for years. They didn’t need Big Brother giving them a push down the hill after greasing and warming the skids. Chuckle. It’s all good. I’ve been using GNU/Linux personally and professionally for years. I just upgraded to Linux 4.1 this morning after watering my weeds. They are doing well as are the corn, onions, trees, squash, etc. Life is good without TOOS and Big Brother is helping the world become Free a few million PCs at a time.

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Bottomless Pits Of Exploitation

“Adobe (and I guess MS as well) put font handling in the kernel from NT 4.0 to gain speed at the expense of having privileged-based protection, and against Dave Cutler’s original micro kernel plans. What could possibly go wrong?”
See Killer ChAraCter HOSES almost all versions of Reader, Windows
What more can I say? M$ has allowed bad guys to exploit images, PDFs, fonts, … It’s never-ending. Thank Goodness there’s GNU/Linux, software created by people that care just a little bit about security, sane people just like us.

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“The Russian Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications has announced a plan to replace proprietary software with open source and locally produced software.”
See Russia to replace proprietary software with open source
Better late than never… In 2010, Putin ordered Russia to convert to FLOSS by 2015. It took them until now just to figure out how to do that:

  • Prefer locally generated software,
  • Choose GNU/Linux and FLOSS as the platform, and
  • Collaborate with other countries, particularly BRICS, to create specific applications.

Amen. I may not like a lot of what Putin has done, but this is the right way for all governments to do IT. It frees them from monopoly. It saves them a ton of money. It unleashes the talent of the world outside the monopolists. Governments tend to be the largest organizations in many countries. That size empowers them to be the engine of software development in the world of FLOSS. Instead of exporting $billions annually to M$ and “partners”, they can pay their own people to adapt FLOSS and */Linux and contribute to FLOSS generally. Many large businesses do this. Why not governments? Also, it’s their job to protect their economies from criminal monopolies like M$’s.

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Rats Queuing Up To Leave Sinking Ship

“Microsoft has been talking to notebook brand vendors about the licensing of Windows 10 recently and is planning to charge extra fees for notebook models with high-end hardware such as Core i7 processors or Full HD display. However, the vendors are concerned that the increased fees could impact their profitability from high-end models, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.”
See Microsoft looking to charge extra licensing fees for high-end notebooks
Yes, these are the end days of Wintel. M$ is desperately trying to remain relevant in the client OS domain while shipments shrink. Now they want to charge “extra” for putting the OS on high end OEM machines while giving the OS away for $0 to older machines. It’s just like M$ to think they own OEMs’ products rather than supplying OEMs a good/service. It will be interesting to see the many ways the OEMs jerk M$’s chain to bring them back to reality, say, by installing GNU/Linux instead of That Other OS. Expect GNU/Linux to have a really great year. 😉

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Desktop/Notebook PCs Stagnate In MEA

“IDC expects the MEA PC market to remain almost flat between 2015 and 2019. However, there will be a gradual shift in the weight of demand from consumers to the commercial segment as a growing proportion of home users switch from PCs to tablets and smartphones and commercial end users maintain their loyalty towards PCs.”
See High Inventory Levels Signal Further Declines for Middle East & Africa PC Market
What should be an emerging market for the classic PC is instead an emerging market for smartphones and tablets. The poor, newbies, youth, and consumers don’t need the bloat of Wintel, folks. The markets are speaking because people have a choice in IT these days, thanks to */Linux and ARM.

I think IDC is optimistic for the outlook for business use of PCs. While a lot of businesses use local applications needing huge monitor, keyboard and mouse, a lot of businesses have employees with meagre needs for data input, great needs for mobility and everyone needs to cut costs in a competitive world. The UPS guy who delivered stuff to me carried a tablet to pick up my signature, not a legacy PC. Salesmen and clerks are mostly consumers of content, not producers. There are a lot of those in the world of business. Businesses used to claim they needed Wintel because their people “knew” it. Well, Android/Linux on ARM is the new Wintel, just a lot less expensive and folks can see the code…
On Thursday, 2015 June 11, 23.35% of page-views counted by StatCounter on a global scale were from Android/Linux. On Thursday, 2014 June 12, the share was only 15.11%, so the annual growth is over 50% per annum, far above stagnation. In Africa the growth of Android/Linux is even higher, nearly 100% per annum. It’s second only to “7”, so far… In Turkey, June 10, Android/Linux was ahead of “7” by more than 1%. In fact, in much of Africa and Asia, and Poland, Paraguay and Costa Rica Android/Linux gets more page-views than That Other OS. Wintel, eat your heart out.

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Fareed Zakaria Underestimates Saudi Arabia

“Saudi Arabia isn’t going to build a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia can’t build a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia hasn’t even built a car.”
See Why Saudi Arabia can’t get a nuclear weapon
Fareed Zakaria is a very wise man but he makes a mistake asserting that Saudi Arabia can’t go nuclear. They already have gone nuclear. In the 1980s I worked there on the cyclotron at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh. They now have several similar accelerators. They had no problem recruiting technically competent people from elsewhere and training their own people to use nuclear technology. If they wanted to make a “dirty bomb” they could run a milliampere beam of protons into water-cooled copper for a few months, powder the result by electrolysis and disperse the product with bombs/shells/balloons/whatever. More production? They could build cyclotrons by the dozen per annum for as long as they needed. They already have a working model. Alpha-emitters? Just bombard something else… They have a bunch of nuclear reactors in the pipeline. Think about that… A delivery system? They have jet planes, pilots, rockets, robotics, artillery. Nothing holds them back. While Saudi Arabia may not have had the best educational system on Earth, they have for ages sent intelligent young people to learn all kinds of technologies. They don’t need millions of educated people to build big bombs, just a few and a lot of workers/robots. Money, material and energy are the real obstacles and the Saudis have them covered thanks to the world’s thirst for oil. The entire Manhatten project cost about $26billion in today’s money, a few weeks of oil production for Saudi Arabia.

Need more bang? Zakaria should be reminded that the Manhatten Project produced multiple bombs with a few thousand man-years of effort and a lot of energy and metal. There must be thousands of Saudis or foreigners working for them who could solve all the necessary problems and develop a plan within a few weeks using modern technology. In the 1940s folks did it with paper/pencil/chalk/slide-rules and a computer with the power of a pocket-calculator. The Saudis pump 10 million barrels of oil per day and generate gigawatts of electricity from natural gas. There’s no shortage of energy to run any enrichment programme. They have uranium. Everyone has it. It’s in the rock and it’s just a matter of mining and extracting to get it. They could have a nasty nuclear weapon within two years if they set their minds to it. They may have already started…

When I was in Saudi Arabia, I could feel the hatred of Iran. It was palpable. They hated the Iranians more than Israel. The only thing that has prevented them going nuclear years ago was promised support from USA. The Obama administration has cured them of that. Obama has not stood up to Assad or ISIL and is not standing up to Iran. As far as I know, no agreement will prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons sooner or later. It would be foolish for the Saudis not to head the Iranians off. MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) worked for USA/Russia/China. Why would the Saudis not think it could work for them? Given the short distance and the religious/political/national polarization of the two countries MAD is the only likely successful means of securing the region. Then there is the matter of Israel. As long as Israel remains at war with local Arabs/muslims, Saudi Arabia, as “protector of the faith” will remain under pressure to do something about Israel and the USA is not helping one bit by propping Israel up. Saudi Arabia has every reason to go nuclear and more than enough means.

Wake up, Fareed!

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The End Of The CD Era

“With the storage size of hard disk drives (HDD) continuing to rise every year, and cloud storage becoming popular, demand for optical discs has been declining a lot faster than expected, and the company is already seeing almost no profits from the business.”
See Taiyo Yuden to end optical disc business
I’m rather nostalgic about CDs. In the 1990s, pre-Flash and with dial-up, they were an essential part of the growth of IT and in particular FLOSS and GNU/Linux. My first installation of Caldera GNU/Linux in 2000 was to/from CDRW. The Internet connection at that school was ~3kbits/s. It took 10 days of nights and weekends just to download the .iso file to burn the CD. Now I could burn a CD every 15 minutes, if I had a burner on Beast. I think there are only two in the house and it’s been years since either one was used to read a CD let alone burn one.

I remember the first CD drive I owned. It was 1X and a “door-crasher” special at a local big box retailer for $70. My young son and I went early but we weren’t first in line. The unruly crowd practically stampeded around us when the doors opened. I leaned back to hold them back and my son ducked under a table for safety. We used that drive for nearly a decade before it died. Later, CDs and drives became much more capable, reliable and cheaper. Then came a copyright tax on CDs… We were punished for using CDs to store/transfer FLOSS with a legal licence as if we were illegally copying Hollywood or the music business’ stuff. Now everyone’s streaming everything on the web. We used to buy CDs by the stack of ~100. I still have envelopes I used to protect them. I still have racks for holding them. I can’t remember the last one I bought. It must have been five years ago or more. Now Flash drives do the job.

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GNU/Linux Desktops Climb A Mountain In Bahrain


See Top 7 Desktop OSs in Bahrain from July 2008 to June 2015
That’s not all. Even if you lump Desktop and Mobile together, Android/Linux beats all other operating systems in Bahrain by a wide margin. These folks are not tied to the past in IT…
It’s the year of */Linux in Bahrain.

Bahrain is a wealthy country. With over a million people it is 12th in the world in GDP/capita. These folks are not using */Linux because they can’t afford other choices. They choose */Linux because they like it and it works for them.

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How Far Can A Small Beetle Walk In 12 Years? Answer: 1000 Miles

On one of my walks, I visited with a neighbour who has lived here for 20 years. He has a lovely yard but his trees almost all have some pest or other. He gave me a tour. He’s closer to the river so his humidity is often very high and various fungi and blights have started to kill his mature spruce. The same is true for several other trees. Shocking to me was that his Gree Ash trees are beset by a small beetle that eats the leaves and overwinters in the bark. This caused me to research various other pests.

The most shocking pest which clobbers Green Ash, a tree that I felt was indestructible the way it survived deer and our winters, is the Emerald Ash Beetle. This little monster tunnels under the bark and eventually cuts off the blood supply to the upper portions, killing the host. The damned thing likely arrived in USA in 2002 in wood from China. From a single outbreak it has killed many ashes from the East Coast to the corn-states. It’s entered Canada in Ontario and Quebec provinces and is knocking at the door in the state of Minnesota, just a hundred miles from here. Chances are good that this pest will be in my yard within a few years because there are no native predators. A vague possibility is that the beetle can’t adapt to -40C. I’ve a bridge I can sell you… Also, it can kill a whole ash just by infecting the base where the mulch, snow-cover and soil can protect it from extreme cold.

There are two or three hopeful measures:

  • Quarantines should slow progress of the march long enough to come up with real defences, like,
  • Importing predators native to the thing in China, and
  • Planting ashes sparsely rather than in groves.

So much for commercial viability of this species. First was the Elm Bark Beetle, and now the Emerald Borer. Folks who replaced the dying elms with ashes just gained a decade or two… The things can kill an ash in two years and it takes much longer for an ash to produce seed. $@!% happens! Green Ash is the only tree I’ve found so far that loves to grow in my yard. Sob!

See Emerald Ash Borer page.

See EAB Photos

Posted in horticulture | Tagged | 8 Comments