Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Monthly Archives / September 2011

  • Sep 30 / 2011
  • 63
technology

High Noon for M$ v Google

SJVN writes that M$ may have the most profitable operation based on Android/Linux thanks to its software patents but he also reminds us that Google is in the process of buying Motorola which is the only major Android/Linux player which has not agreed to pay M$.

It is possible that Motorola and M$ have already agreed to something but M$ states that Motorola does not have a licence. That leads to two possible outcomes:

  • M$ leaves Motorola alone to divide the Android/Linux ecosystem, or
  • M$ sues Motorola/Google sooner rather than later.

The first possibility is unlikely to fly as it deflates the FUD. The second possibility looms large as there’s no one left to sue in the big players. M$ is unlikely to bother with the small players.

That leaves a likely tangle between M$ and Google in court. Google/Motorola may have some patents to throw at M$ but M$ is the elephant in the room with many thousands of patents on the wheel, the mouse, the mouse click, etc. It could get very interesting before M$’s patented house of cards collapses. At the rate Oracle’s case v Google is collapsing, M$’s might be a huge embarassment. Oracle’s case is mostly about the Android part of Android/Linux and M$’s case would be mostly about the Linux part so together, everything would be covered. I can imagine some very interesting motions that Google might launch like getting M$ to actually list the patents it believe Linux infringes and how. Then the patents could be challenged publicly and shot to pieces. That would soon kill M$’s extortion racket.

  • Sep 30 / 2011
  • 6
technology

Letter to my MP

The Government of Canada has proposed revision of the Copyright Act including blessing DRM… Here is my letter to my MP on the matter:
I am interested in copyright as it applies to personal computers. As you may know certain widely used retail products such as DVDs often use encryption, a digital lock in terms of the proposed changes, to prevent copying or playing on the DVD drive of a personal computer. Software is available to decrypt this data in Microsoft Windows operating system but not in GNU/Linux. The reason is that Hollywood has made a deal with Microsoft for this feature. A user of GNU/Linux cannot buy a licence to play a DVD movie on his PC. He has to buy a player. This digital lock was developed in 1999 and compromised within a year. DVDs have been played widely using CSS decryption for more than a decade. Lawsuits by the DVD Copy Control Association against the authours and distributors of decryption software failed because decryption was widely known and used. It is silly for Canada, a decade later, to make playing of DVD movies on GNU/Linux PCs illegal.

This is not a tiny problem. About 10% of PCs run GNU/Linux and many have DVD players. Millions of new DVD players would have to be bought to comply with this legislation. The overview on the government of Canada website is also misleading:

“Digital locks are an important tool for creators and copyright owners to protect their work. Software producers, video game and movie distributors, for example, continue to use digital locks as part of their business model because they wish to protect the significant investment each makes in developing the products. Canadian jobs depend on their ability to make a return on this investment.
In other markets, however, in light of consumer demands, some businesses have chosen not to use digital locks. Copyright owners may decide whether to use a digital lock, and consumers can then decide whether to buy the product.”

I have helped many people use the DVDs that they purchased with GNU/Linux on their PCs which they purchased by using CSS decryption software. The DVDs are not marked to allow the owner of a PC to know whether or not the DVD will play on their system unless it uses Windows. Thus this measure is an illegal restraint of trade promoting the use of Microsoft Windows operating systems. It is a part of Microsoft’s lock-in of consumers and should not be supported by the government.

Thank you


Robert Pogson
Have server, will travel…

  • Sep 30 / 2011
  • 6
technology

Phoronix Blasted

Phoronix has annoyed me in the past with critiques of GNU/Linux so I rarely read anything on their site these days but I enjoyed reading a critique of Phoronix about power management. Phoronix had an article about a bug in Linux and how it caused a dreadful waste of power and was a step backwards. It was neither.

“Michael Larabel would be far more helpful to the community if he would learn how to properly identify and test for these sorts of problems and report them through the proper channels. He is more interested though in driving clicks to his website, and the best way to do that is through fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

If he cared about the community, you would see his participation about his fabled ASPM “regression” on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. If he were to post about the myth he created there though, he would probably be eaten alive .. and deservedly so.”

Amen.

  • Sep 29 / 2011
  • 50
technology

“Technological Evangelism” Still Lives

There is a scandal of global proportions about M$ paying to have coverage in news programming on CNBC and BBC. Technological evangelism still lives.“Microsoft began its commercial relationship with media firm FBC in 2003. A nine-page strategy document written in 2004 obtained by The Independent contains excerpts which show that when the technology giant launched its European Microsoft Innovation Centre in Germany in 2004, FBC drew up a plan for Microsoft to target broadcasters with its “corporate messaging” and gave a guarantee to Microsoft that it would “place” coverage of the launch event on World Business, the weekly programme it made for the CNBC network. CNBC has suspended the show and is investigating FBC.”

This is what M$ considered technological evangelism in 2000:“Why not do it all ourselves?

  • Because we can’t
    • There’s just too much to be done
  • Because they won’t let us
    • Lawyers are Us
  • Because third parties are more efficient
    • In their respective markets


In addition to identifying and categorizing the relevant ISVs, Evangelism should also identify and categorize other industry influencers during this first phase of evangelism. There are three categories of industry influencers:

  • 2. The Press: Almost every technological evangelism campaign involves working with the press, either directly or through a PR agency. Our evangelism campaign should identify the specific members of the press that you will target (as distinct from the usual, non-technical PR treatment).
  • 3. Analysts: Analysts are people who are paid to take a stand, while always trying to appear to be disinterested observers (since the appearance of independence maximizes the price they can charge for selling out). Treat them as you would treat nuclear weapons – an important part of your arsenal, which you want to keep out of the hands of the enemy. BribeHire them to produce “studies” that “prove” your technology is superior to the enemy’s, and that it is gaining momentum faster.


Working behind the scene to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is an important part of the Slog.

Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the enemy’s technology part of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for the competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time. ”

That looks a lot like this news story and what happens in the comments here almost daily. If M$’s technology were truly superior, none of this would be necessary.

  • Sep 28 / 2011
  • 4
technology

You, The People

The people have a right to petition government to do the right thing. There is a petition calling for the end of software patents at Whitehouse.gov. Give it a try. Their goal was 5000 signatures and they are up to 12000.

  • Sep 28 / 2011
  • 43
technology

Amazon’s Tablet

The Kindle Fire Tablet was announced today. It runs Android/Linux and costs $199. With Amazon’s marketing resources it should sell well. This will take a big bite out of iPad’s lead. There is one downside to it. This tablet is 7 inches… Let’s hope they put out a larger model soon.

UPDATE
The Kindle Fire is not just a product but the tip of an iceberg in the Kindle series. There are 7 machines from a fairly simple e-book reader all the way up to the Kindle Fire which does most of the same things as the less expensive models but adds a custom web-browser. It’s all about making Amazon’s products easy to obtain and to use.

  • Kindle – $79
  • Kindle Touch – $99
  • Kindle Touch 3G – $149
  • Kindle Keyboard – $99
  • Kindle Keyboard 3G – $139
  • Kindle Fire – $199

It’s not about selling Kindles, although that is profitable. Amazon wants to sell 18 million movies and video on demand. It’s like the customer’s mailbox but a lot faster and the customer can reload sooner.

US only…

  • Sep 28 / 2011
  • 44
technology

Insecure Boot

Jeff Hoogland tries to make the point that M$’s “secure boot” protocol is only a problem if OEMs do not give Linux the key…

He’s drunk the Koolaid. How are OEMs to give Linux the key without giving it to every Tom, Dick and Harry malware writer??? Linux is open source software. Kernel.org does not distribute signed binaries but source code. If the key is in the source code somehow, the world can see it and so can the malware artists.

The bottom line is that the OEMs will not give GNU/Linux the key. They might give some distros the key but that would violate the GPL if the distros use it. You cannot give someone a licence to run the code and then deny them to run the code.

Further, M$ can well twist OEMs’ arms to change the key for M$’s next release, or they can have keys revoked.

Twit.

  • Sep 28 / 2011
  • 31
technology

Inside M$

I cannot get my head around how anyone can run a business with tens of thousands of employees. Schools start to be difficult to run even at 500 students. However, as businesses go, M$, internally, is looking sick these days.

From the unofficial blog:

  • This year is one of those inflection points: Apple has been soaring with its excellent device results, blowing Microsoft away and cannibalizing our Windows powered device market. The Microsoft stock is horribly flat and there are calls all-around for Ballmer to be replaced.
  • While MSFT has plenty of other viable businesses, none is as profitable nor as core strategically as Windows. Windows was once an impenetrable fortress, but in the past year, AAPL has penetrated it with a single product launch. MSFT is destined to play catch-up in slates, and it sounds like nothing serious is coming out until Windows 8 in another 12 to 15 months (maybe)
  • MSFT is still very strong in the enterprise but to the consumer, MSFT seems completely dead. MSFT has no consumer mindshare any longer
  • When it comes to the Company Meeting, I personally am dreading anything that can be in the least bit tangled up with… sigh… THE CLOUD. Two things lost my respect to this force-fed-bubble-gum-on-my-shoe initiative: first, that using our cloud services is Alpha-Geek hostile… Second, that we started to slap THE CLOUD on crazy crap like home PC image editing.
  • It’s interesting that while Apple is on the radar of the author, the steam-roller overtaking Apple, Android/Linux on diverse smart thingies, is not. Picture, in your mind, a pedestrian on the sidewalk trying to dodge an out-of-control fuel tanker. The front bumper is the least of his worries even if it is the immediate threat. Thus, it seems to me that M$ is in crisis, with rats trying to escape just before it sinks.

    The blog does describe some upside like diverse segments with $billions in revenue. M$ can work like any other business. It is the core Wintel monopoly that is rotting. Eventually the OS segment will have to operate as a business rather than as a monopoly. Otherwise the low morale of the day will be just the beginning of a huge slide wherein everyone in the company will be negatively affected by the delirium of the sick old man running things. There is no right way to diversify a business if one unit is more blessed than all the others. No one likes to be a second-class citizen and no one likes the guy who gets paid for doing nothing.

    • Sep 28 / 2011
    • 0
    technology

    Tablets Running Android/Linux Are On Track To Surpass iPad In 2012

    Recent numbers support the idea that Android/Linux tablets will overtake iPad shortly, according to Digitimes. Growth is huge with the world shipping 50%+ more Android/Linux tablets in August than in the whole of the second quarter. For all of 2011, Digitimes estimates Android/Linux tablets will ship 33-40% of the number of iPads shipped. If the growth continues and repeats what happened with smart phones, in 2012, Android/Linux will leave iOS in the dust while Phoney “7″ is still at the starting line.

    • Sep 28 / 2011
    • 0
    technology

    Happy Birthday, LibreOffice

    In the TDF blog: ” we have 136 members who have been nominated for their contributions to the project; we have some 270 developers and 270 localizers (although we always want to attract more), many of whom are also members; we have over 100 mailing lists, with over 15,000 subscribers, half of whom receive all our announcements; and there have been thousands of articles in the media worldwide”

    They estimate there are 15 million users running GNU/Linux and 10 million running that other OS and MacOS. The 15million numbers come from IDC’s estimate of new and updated installations of GNU/Linux with many distros using LibreOffice so the growth in users should be many millions per year for several years to come.

    • Sep 27 / 2011
    • 13
    technology

    Wash, Bundle, Repeat

    M$ is desperately trying to preserve its desktop monopoly and to extend it to smart thingies by requiring OEMs to allow only signed software to boot on new machines that may run “8″. Think of the advantages, for M$:

    • M$ can arrange that no future release can run on any older machine, requiring the machine to be replaced with the software. OEMs will love that…
    • M$ can arrange that no competitor’s software can run on a new machine.
    • M$ can enforce that the OS can die at a predetermined time and the whole unit must be replaced.

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