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09.04.15

Patents Roundup: Apple Versus Android/Linux, Leigh Rothschild Versus Everyone, Patent Lawyers Versus Patent Reform and Progressivism

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 6:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Leigh Rothschild
Photo source: Intellectual Ventures

Summary: News collated which pertains to software patents, especially those which affect Free/libre software

TODAY’S series of links is divided based on themes, starting with what we deem most important.

Apple’s Attacks on Free Software

Joe Mullin is flabbergasted by Apple’s vicious assault on the Linux-powered platform that reduced the ‘i’ empire to rubble, with at most 18% market share (depending on the source and the geography).

“All that Apple does is dissemination of DRM, maximisation of (weaponised) patents, and exploitation of public ignorance/apathy to ‘sell’ (actually rent) proprietary software on overzealously locked-down hardware.”Android rose to unbeatable levels of dominance despite Apple’s assault (remember that Apple started it 5 years ago) and in one legal case alone there are now “3,200 documents [...] not including exhibits.” Imagine the cost of legal defence here. Apple and Samsung are still fighting in court and “Koh’s recent orders suggest she is fed up with the intense litigation by both parties,” Mullin notes. “The case docket for the first of two Apple v. Samsung lawsuits now has more than 3,200 documents in it, not including exhibits. Last week, Koh issued an order prohibiting the parties from making any further additions without permission.”

This is, at the very least, deterrence. More importantly, it’s Apple greed (it wants billions of dollars from Samsung). Apple is just hoping that companies with pockets less deep than Samsung’s will simply give up and pay Apple for profits made through distribution of Android (Free software). This is clearly an attack on Free software, so anyone still insisting that Apple likes “Open Source” is about as delusional as people who deem ‘i’ products superior and worthy of the high price tags.

Several years ago we openly and unambiguously called for a boycott of everything “Apple”. The company is malicious and it is dangerous to the future of Free software. All that Apple does is dissemination of DRM, maximisation of (weaponised) patents, and exploitation of public ignorance/apathy to ‘sell’ (actually rent) proprietary software on overzealously locked-down hardware.

Rothschild Connected Devices ‘Innovations’

Joe Mullin, covering and citing the original rant from the EFF, expands on Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, which is essentially a patent troll. He provides some details on what Leigh Rothschild, whom the world’s biggest patent troll (Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft-connected) glamourises, has been up to:

Patent-holding company Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations (RCDI) owns US Patent No. 8,788,090, which was granted in 2014 and describes a system where a “remote server” “transmits” a “product preference” via a “communication module.” Using those broad claims, RCDI has sued more than 20 companies for making things that connect to the Internet. The company sued ADT (PDF) over its Pulse product that allows for things like adjusting a thermostat.

The patent relates to an application filed back in 2006 that essentially describes an Internet drink mixer. A consumer can customize products by connecting to a server on “the global computer network, e.g., the Internet,” which can then “provide product preferences of a user to a product or a mixing device, e.g., a product or beverage dispenser.”

This is an example not just of patent trolling but also software patents, which are the weapon favoured among patent trolls. If the latter can be eliminated, much of the former too will vanish (go bankrupt). This is why we emphasise the need to combat software patents (scope), not just “trolls”, however one defines them (definitions tend to vary somewhat as some very large companies act indistinguishably from classic patent trolls or patent sharks).

Changes Afoot

There are more new signs of the US patent system tightening. Yesterday for example Foley & Lardner LLP published an analysis of another criterion (not “abstract”) by which patents can be squashed in US courts, even the notorious Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). To quote the analysis: “As noted in the Federal Circuit decision, Dow Chemical Company asserted selected claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,847,053 and U.S. Patent No. 6,111,023 against NOVA Chemicals Corporation (Canada) and NOVA Chemicals Inc. (Delaware). A jury found the asserted claims to be infringed and not invalid, and the Federal Circuit affirmed, holding, among other things, “that the asserted claims were not indefinite.” The district court then conducted a bench trial for a supplemental damages period through the expiration date of both patents, granted $30M in supplemental damages in the form of lost profits and reasonable royalties, and denied Dow’s request for enhanced damages. NOVA appealed, and Dow cross-appealed.”

Earlier this year we wrote about the Nautilus case. This too is relevant here. “Applying the Nautilus standard,” says Foley & Lardner LLP, “the Federal Circuit held that existence of multiple methods that could lead to different results and the absence of guidance in the patent or prosecution history as to which method should be used rendered the claims indefinite because they “fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.” The court therefore reversed the $30M supplemental damages award.”

This ought to discourage litigation, filing of new patent applications that are similar in nature to the above, and generally feed back (like in a loop) into the US patent system so as to modify examination guidelines, in very much the same way that Alice has done since last year. See this new article titled “After Alice: A Feedback Loop of Software Patent Invalidity”. The article comes from the pro-patents media (whose audience is patent lawyers) and it’s summarised as follows: “Ever since a major patent decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, patents have seemed to be invalidated right and left. But is that a result of the decision itself, or because of the feedback loop caused by the process by which patents are challenged?”

They are trying to dismiss the legitimacy of the decisions by casting them as an “echo chamber” of sorts. Well, that’s what one might expect from the patent profiteers, even thought some patent lawyers’ blogs already acknowledge that software patents may be on their death throes.

IP Kat, a blog run by patent lawyers (and other monopolies like copyrights, trademarks, etc.), is still openly concerned about voices of reason, or published opinions from people who don’t profit from this corrupt system of protectionism by patent monopolies. Watch this latest dismissal of The Economist‘s pair of articles.

“No,” insist sthe patents proponent, “what these articles are ultimately intended for is to try and set the narrative by which the patent system is discussed. To this end, economics is merely a hand-maiden. In so doing, The Economist joins a long tradition. We have seen the struggle to control the patent narrative played out several times in the recent past.”

OK, so the lawyers are upset at an opposing (not dissenting) view and insist that The Economist is basically trolling (in the Internet troll sense of the word). “No,” continue this particular lawyer (second in this blog this week to write about The Economist‘s articles from one month ago), “this Kat is not an IP Luddite. The patent system and the laws underlying it can certainly be improved. But this is not what the two pieces in The Economist are about.”

It was perfectly clear what The Economist meant to say. Rather than tip-toeing and making decorative, minor changes to a broken system (like all of these proposed ‘reforms’ we keep hearing about) the writers/editors at The Economist wish to just scrap the entire lot, potentially starting from scratch (if at all). Seeing the patent lawyers squirm over this very idea is hardly surprising. Their want their share. They want to tax everything, even if nobody needs them at all.

“We cannot hope to own it all, so instead we should try to create the largest possible market and insert ourselves as a small tax on that market.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft at the time (now a patent troll)

Links 4/9/2015: Acer Predator 8, GNOME 3.17.91 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 5:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • New Cyber Threat Detection Tool Made Open Source

    Lockheed’s move points to the power of open source, particularly when it comes to big overreaching issues such as cybersecurity. Rather than Lockheed keeping their tool as internal proprietary software and requiring others to license or purchase it, they recognized the potential their innovation holds for the greater good. This represents a huge step for both the open source and cybersecurity communities.

  • Why Does the Government Use Open Source Code?
  • Twitter open-sources Diffy, a tool for automatically spotting bugs in code

    Twitter is today announcing the availability of Diffy, a new piece of open-source software that developers can use to spot bugs when they’re making updates to certain parts of code.

    Twitter uses the code internally. Now the social networking company is releasing it to the rest of the world.

  • We wrote an open source bank parser

    Our first project is something I was already working on, an extensible parser to chew bank statements and shit out transaction sheets. We made a gem, made an API and learnt a lot in the process. (We even wrote a java API to unlock pdf files given a password. Whew!). We currently have a meager three bank support, but we’ve managed to build a framework that makes it super easy to add other banks and statement formats.

  • Events

    • Ada Initiative runs out of puff, shuts its doors

      This manifested itself largely in attempts to force conference organisers to adopt draconian codes of conduct. In 2013, Aurora was very much in the public eye when she forced the organisers of the Security BSides conference in San Francisco to cancel a talk that she deemed unsuitable.

      The presenter was well-known speaker Violet Blue and the talk was titled “sex +/- drugs: known vulns and exploits”.

      Though Aurora tried her level best to make out that she had been asked to look over the conference programme by the organisers, it became apparent that she was the one who had poked her nose into the whole affair and tried to muscle the organisers into cancelling the talk.

    • Australian Linux conference back in the black, says Linux Australia president

      The Australian national Linux conference has not made a loss in 2015 after a disastrous 2014, according to the president of Linux Australia, Joshua Hesketh.

      Hesketh said LCA 2015, which was held in Auckland earlier his year, was expected to return to profit once the books were fully closed and audited.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • FossaMail Open-Source Mail Client Launches Update

        FossaMail is built on the Mozilla Thunderbird client but without all the will-they-or-won’t-they of the rumors that Mozilla has done with Thunderbird. Even better, FossaMail is compatible with both Windows and Linux, while offering a 64-bit download in Windows to up the speed, address more memory, and perform other 64-bit operations.

        At the same time, FossaMail looks and feels just like Thunderbird, despite the oval tab fiasco. It still offers a contacts list, calendar, and chat, just like most users have come to expect from their email platforms. It’s so close to Thunderbird, in fact, that the developers didn’t bother with an extensive tutorial or FAQ, but instead just point users to the Thunderbird help section if they have any problems.

  • Databases

    • Five Ways Open Source Databases Are Limited

      Two of the reasons to deploy an open source database are cost and philosophy. Philosophically, the open source movement subscribes to the notion that having community-developed product creates a better product, and/or “contributes to the world in a better way.” The other reason is cost, which usually means “free,” or at least no-charge for the software database license.

  • CMS

    • Proprietary vs. open source WCM [Ed: pro-proprietary]

      As it turns out, open source software is not always so free, proprietary software is not necessarily closed, and help from the open source community isn’t nearly as comprehensive as the level of support you get from a professional vendor.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source-distributions for Romanian public administrations

      Advocates of free and open source have tailored two Linux-distributions, motivating the country’s public administrations to use this type of software solutions. The distributions were presented on 29 August at events in Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca, the country’s most-populous cities. The Ministry of Education is the first to take an interest.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Action Alert: NYT Gives a False Pass to US on Cluster Bomb Sales

      The New York Times‘ Rick Gladstone (9/3/15) has an article on the use of cluster bombs—aptly described as the “widely outlawed munitions that kill and maim indiscriminately”—in conflicts in Libya, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, five countries that have not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which banned the production, sale and use of these weapons in 2010.

      [...]

      This is just wrong: The Convention not only bans the use of cluster bombs—which the US military used against Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq before the treaty went into effect, but did not use subsequently in its air attacks on Libya—it also mandates that signatories are “never under any circumstances to…develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions.”

    • The New York Times: Diplomats Agree That Iran Deal “Is As Good A Deal As You Could Get”

      Diplomats from the UK, China, France, Germany and Russia told Congress that the Iran nuclear deal is the best deal possible, according to a report from The New York Times.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Web of Secrecy Surrounding Federal Half-a-Billion Handout to Charter Schools

      Secretary Duncan has previously called for “absolute transparency” when it comes to school performance, but that’s just a talking point unless he releases the applications, or even a list of the states that are in the running, before they are given the final stamp of approval.

    • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Calls Out Trump For Bullying The Press

      Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called out Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for the “insidious political crime” of increasingly “attacking the First Amendment’s protection of a free press by menacing journalists.”

      In an essay for The Washington Post’s PostEverything section, Abdul-Jabbar detailed Trump’s increasingly hostile attacks on the press. On two separate occasions, Trump has thrown Hispanic journalists out of his press conferences.

  • Privacy

    • Snowden: Clinton’s email server ‘a problem’

      “If an ordinary worker at the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency … were sending details about the security of the embassies, which is alleged to be in her email, meetings with private government officials, foreign government officials and the statements that were made to them in confidence over unclassified email systems, they would not only lose their jobs and lose their clearance, they would very likely face prosecution for it,” he added.

      Snowden also set his sights on GOP White House front-runner Donald Trump for calling him a “total traitor” earlier this summer.

      “It’s very difficult to respond in a serious way to any statement that’s made by Donald Trump,” he said of the outspoken billionaire.

      Clinton’s voter support is fading amid controversy over her technology habits while serving as secretary of State. Critics say her use of a personal storage device prevented accountability of her actions and jeopardized national security secrets.

  • Civil Rights

  • DRM

    • There’s still a chance to save WiFi

      You may not know it, but wifi is under assault in the USA due to proposed FCC regulations about modifications to devices with modular radios. In short, it would make it illegal for vendors to sell devices with firmware that users can replace. This is of concern to everyone, because Wifi routers are notoriously buggy and insecure. It is also of special concern to amateur radio hobbyists, due to the use of these devices in the Amateur Radio Service (FCC Part 97).

09.03.15

Microsoft’s Vista 10 Still a Failure, So Focus Shifts to Attacks on GNU/Linux, Android

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hopping to the competitor’s side of the fence/gate, just like in Troy

A fence

Summary: Vista 10 adoption is already plateauing (at very low levels considering the zero-cost ‘upgrade’) and Microsoft is trying to assert or exploit (patent) monopolies where adoption and market growth are extremely high (Free software)

Barely anybody is using Microsoft’s ‘new’ (rebranded) browser, according to this article which cites an IDG report, which in turn uses Microsoft-friendly data sources such as Net Applications. That’s despite Microsoft’s dirty and anti-competitive tricks regarding the default Web browser (Microsoft overriding users’ preferences) [1, 2] in Vista 10. Microsoft Emil, who is writing lots of propaganda pieces for Vista 10 over at VentureBeat these days, is trying to give a terribly false impression by passing the gross distortion/illusion that Vista 10 now has majority market share (extreme cherry-picking) while even the most Microsoft-friendly surveys put its market share at under 5%, instantaneousness debunking Microsoft’s unverified claims of 75 million Vista 10 ‘users’ (however Microsoft defines these). Matt Weinberger, in the mean time, comes out with another promotional Microsoft piece advocating a new Microsoft monopoly (because the operating system monopoly has been lost to Android, GNU/Linux, and so on). One Microsoft apologist (very Windows-centric) is now trash-talking GNU/Linux and devaluing privacy in an effort to convince people to adopt Vista 10 and avoid GNU/Linux. How much more blatant can it get? Microsoft doesn’t “love Linux”, it just hates it. The Microsoft boosters truly fear Free software and they’re pretty bad at hiding it.

“Expect Microsoft to continue wielding patents against GNU/Linux and Android (it’s still happening), especially now that Windows is in a state of crisis.”Android is currently being besieged by Microsoft. A site that is affiliated with Microsoft’s MSN (and by its own admission “owns shares of Microsoft”) is trying to promote Microsoft inside Android, a former Microsoft lackey (see her career history, before she scrubbed it off her profile) is promoting Skype on Android, and Ketan Pratap says “Microsoft’s Push Into Google’s Android Is Good News for Users”. That’s almost as foolish or terrible as saying that the Trojan horse was good for Troy.

Microsoft is viciously attacking Google, Android, and ChromeOS using patents. Make no mistake about it, there is extensive evidence of that and not even Microsoft would deny it when asked. When Microsoft approaches Android et al. it’s part of an effort to weaken competitors, not contribute or complement them.

Patents are an ugly business. They’re offensive, not defensive, but tabloids like Gizmodo make gossip out of Google’s patent search, adding a ‘sexy’ angle to it. Google is no fan of patents and it tries combating them using prior art searches.

There is a practice we’ve been covering here in relation to patent attacks to Android. Tim Sparapani calls this “Attack of the Patent Privateers”, alluding to a system of cartels that collude against competitors (assuring one thrives with protectionism, not innovation). As Sparapani puts is, companies like Apple or Microsoft “are becoming more clever about using – or misusing, depending on your perspective – the patent system to extract funds from competitors or thwart others’ growth. This harms America’s best companies and most promising startups.

“One example of this growth is the emergence of so-called patent privateering, which contributes to an ever-greater amount of frivolous or abusive patent litigation. Privateering is a pleasant euphemism for empowering a pirate to attack your competitors for profit. Patent privateering occurs when a company lends or sells a portion of its patents to another litigious company to sue alleged patent infringers who are all too often the competitors of the original patent recipient company that was under the impression it had licensed the entire portfolio.”

That’s what Microsoft is doing to Android and Google, using Nokia‘s patents in MOSAID/Conversant‘s hands, to give just one example. Microsoft even does this more directly with Vringo. Sparapani uses the word “pirate”, not “troll”, to refer to the types of goons whom Microsoft empowers to attack competitors.

Patents are thankfully collapsing with developments such as the Alice determination. Patents on software lose their value, as do their profiteers, based on this latest analysis of the Marathon Patent Group, which (as the name implies), is not a producing company. This is basically nothing but a bunch of goons for hire — people who will use patents to attack by proxy (hence retaliatory litigation becomes an impossibility). To quote the latest on this:

According to Zacks, “Marathon Patent Group Inc. is a patent and patent rights acquisition and licensing company. The Company acquires patents from a wide-range of patent holders from individual inventors to Fortune 500 companies. It serves its clients through two complementary business units: IP Services and IP Licensing and Enforcement business. Marathon Patent Group, Inc. is based in Alexandria, Virginia. “

Expect Microsoft to continue wielding patents against GNU/Linux and Android (it's still happening), especially now that Windows is in a state of crisis. Microsoft will do this not only directly (blackmail using patents) but also indirectly, using entities like the one above (we wrote about several of them before).

Microsoft does not want peace, it wants domination. As long as this remains the case, peace will be reached with Microsoft only when Microsoft is practically dead.

Links 3/9/2015: Xiaomi’s Linux Push, Calligra/Krita 2.9.7

Posted in News Roundup at 12:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Special Exclusive: Q&A with Joyent CEO Scott Hammond

    So far, we have utilized open source as a model to innovate quickly and engage with customers and a broad developer community. SmartOS and Node.js are open source projects we have run for a number of years. In November of last year we went all in when we open sourced two of the systems at Joyent’s core: SmartDataCenter and Manta Object Storage Service. The unifying technology beneath both SmartDataCenter and Manta is OS-based virtualization and we believe open sourcing both systems is a way to broaden the community around the systems and advance the adoption of OS-based virtualization industry-wide.

  • Gandi Joins Open Source Initiative Corporate Sponsorship Program

    Sponsorship consolidates technical infrastructure and support for OSI’s web hosting and administrative systems.

  • Building efficiency software available as open source code

    A set of automated calibration techniques for tuning residential and commercial building energy efficiency software models to match measured data is now available as an open source code. The Autotune code, developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is available on GitHub.

  • ORNL-Developed Building Efficiency Software Now Available
  • Project Calico: Open Source, High-Scale Network Fabric For The Cloud

    Cloud developers and operators are facing a challenge: Much of the IT toolkit that has worked well for “silo” architectures and well enough for virtual machine environments isn’t a good match for apps made using containers or for microservices, where components may be not just on different machines but in many locations, and instances may come, go, or multiply. Yesterday’s “network fabric” does not accommodate this activity efficiently or reliably.

  • The True Internet of Things

    For a clear and encouraging look at where this should be going, read Phil Windley. He not only writes eloquently about the IoT, but he has been working on GPL’d open-source code for things and how they relate. To me, Phil is the Linus of IoT—or will be if people jump in and help out with the code. Whether Phil fills that role or not, nobody has more useful or insightful things to say about IoT. That’s why I decided to interview him here.

  • Events

    • Hello, Columbus: Ohio LinuxFest Up Next Oct. 2-3

      Next up on Brother FOSS’s Traveling Salvation Show — pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everyone go — brings the proverbial tent and revival show to Columbus, Ohio, at the beginning of next month.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Chrome 46 Enters Beta with Flexible Animations, Optimized Image Loading

        After announcing the promotion of the Google Chrome 45 web browser to the stable channel on September 1, Google pushed earlier today, September 2, the Chrome 46 web browser to the Beta channel for testers worldwide.

      • Android developers can now build Chrome custom tabs into their apps

        Google released Chrome 45 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android yesterday, and today we’re learning that the Android update includes support for a new feature called Chrome custom tabs. You can download the new Chrome version now from Google Play, but you won’t see Chrome custom tabs right away — today’s news is primarily aimed at developers. That said, Google has partnered with a few apps already — Feedly, The Guardian, Medium, Player.fm, Skyscanner, Stack Overflow, Tumblr, and Twitter will support custom tabs “in the coming weeks.”

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • How open-source MySQL keeps Eurovision live

      The European Broadcasting Union, one of the world’s largest broadcasting networks and the organisation behind the Eurovision Song Contest, has sought help to manage the open-source MySQL databases that power its online video and audio streaming services.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.0 review – Good stuff

      I woke up this morning babe, and the Internet was storming, inside of me. And when I get that feeling I know I need some LibreOffice testing. Yes. What happened was, I opened the browser, like, and I was, like, there’s a new, like, LibreOffice, like, and it’s a whole-number version. Yay.

      In all seriousness, LibreOffice 5.0 got me really excited. Yes, I know, it was an almost arbitrary increment of a minor version to a major one, much like Mozilla did with Firefox a few years back. Still, I totally liked the previous version, and for the first time in many years, it showed real, actual potential of being a viable alternative to payware solutions. Let’s see in which direction this latest edition carries the good news and all that hope.

    • Is Office 365 really cheaper than going open source?

      The claim certainly generated plenty of headlines about the benefits of moving from OpenOffice to Office 365. However, it seems that, from the report, some of those savings are tied to the specific scenario facing the local authority in question, while others would diminish over time, as the bulk of the cost difference stems from estimates of lost productivity during years immediately after shifting to OpenOffice.

    • Should I switch from OpenOffice to LibreOffice or Microsoft Office? [Ed: yes, it’s Microsoft Jack promoting Microsoft Office again]
  • Sleepy Puppy

  • Funding

    • Open Source’s money issue

      These past years -and months- we have had several examples how lack of funding can cut a project’s ability to develop, patch and maintain its codebase and by project I mean developers not getting adequate money, if no money at all, for what they do. There is really two sides to the same coin here. There’s the one where an entire industry re-uses entire FOSS stacks or components, sometimes without even acknowledging it licence-wise or even just in name. And there’s the other side, where the same industry will not compensate anyone upstream, because the license terms enables simple reuse and distribution of those software components.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD on Beagle Bone Black (with networking)

      I set out to run FreeBSD on my Beagle Bone Black (now dubbed “smurf” by the kids on account of it’s small and blue), for network services. My DSL modem is a crappy under-configurable thing, but I don’t dare to start hacking on it directly because it runs the telephony side of things, too. So I decided to use the Beagle Bone Black to take control of my home network.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Code ninjas earn “belts” with CoderDojo

      But where, one may ask, will we as a global workforce find the next generation of bright young programmers, hardware engineers, and system administrators? This is the problem being addressed—in part—by CoderDojo, an Ireland-based international organization of more than 700 coding clubs worldwide. By engaging young people ages 7-17 in informal, creative environments, independent clubs of youngsters can learn web and application development along with other opportunities to explore technology and learn what excites them. Volunteer adults lead the local clubs, called Dojos, and teams of mentors and helpers are working together to keep the Dojo active and healthy. The kids are usually referred to as Ninjas and can complete activities and earn belts as their skills grow, although most clubs are using color-coded USB bracelets to signify ranks.

    • Stupid RCU Tricks: Hand-over-hand traversal of linked list using SRCU

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • Trackpoint falling off Page 10? NOT ON MY WATCH

      Sure, sure the mouse won on desktop and the trackpad won on laptop. IBM’s magnificent Trackpoint is a tiny minority share of the pointer market on both, maybe even headed for extinction. Even Lenovo has been leaving it off some ‘Thinkpads’.

    • Intel GPU memory bandwidth

      Two days ago, I commented I was seeing only 1/10th or so of the theoretical bandwidth my Intel GPU should have been able to push, and asked if anyone could help be figure out the discrepancy. Now, several people (including the helpful people at #intel-gfx) helped me understand more of the complete picture, so I thought I’d share:

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Earth has ‘lost more than half its trees’ since humans first started cutting them down

      The planet of the trees has given way to the planet of the apes. The Earth has lost more than half of its trees since humans first learned how to wield the axe, scientists have found.

      A remarkable study has calculated that there are about 3 trillion trees on the planet today but this represents just 45 per cent of the total number of trees that had existed before the rise of humans.

      Using a combination of satellite images, data from forestry researchers on the ground and supercomputer number-crunching, scientists have for the first time been able to accurately estimate the quantity of trees growing on all continents except Antarctica.

  • Finance

    • Walmart and Walker: Always Low Wages

      What do Governor Scott Walker and Walmart have in common? They talk pay raises in public while cheating their workers of pay.

      When Walmart announced with great fanfare that it was boosting pay for frontline workers, CMD questioned the spin. After all, Walmart is regularly forced to pay back wages between 2007-2012 amounting to an astonishing $30 million according to a U.S. Senate report. This week, Bloomberg reported that Walmart is cutting hours for its workers, robbing many of the benefit of the recent pay hike.

    • The Great Wealth Transfer to the London Elite

      The Guardian has a fascinating piece on house prices which deserves to be read and studied in detail. In London in 2013 the median house price had reached 300,000 while the median salary was 24,600. House prices are 12.2 x salary. That means it is in practice impossible for working people, without inherited wealth, to buy a house.

      But the point is, that it should be equally impossible to rent a house. Landlords look for a rental return of approximately 6% of rental value. So that would put median rent in London at around 18,000 pa, which is a realistic figure. But nobody on a salary of 24,600 before tax can pay 18,000 pa in rent. So we should be at a stage where it is impossible for Londoners who have not inherited homes to live there at all.

    • UK welfare spending: how much does each benefit really cost?

      Benefit spending is constantly in the news but how much do we really know about where the benefits money goes in the UK?

      Well, we have collected the data as part of our annual analysis of UK public spending. It shows how benefit spending dominates the UK’s budget each year – but it also breaks it down in detail.

      What it shows is that the Department for Welfare and Pensions is the biggest spending department in the UK – spending £166.98bn in 2011-12, which is Of that huge sum, £159bn was spent on benefits – an increase of 1.1% on the previous year. That is 23% of all public spending.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Did ‘Ferguson Effect’ Cause Murder Wave? No. Is There a Murder Wave? Unclear

      But there’s a more fundamental problem with the Times story than suggesting that criticizing police violence is (maybe) responsible for a rise in homicides: It’s not clear that the rise in homicides that the story is pegged to actually exists as a nationwide phenomenon.

      The evidence for this supposed murder wave seems to be the responses the Times got when it called police departments across the country. After the story’s lead detailed a rise in homicides in Milwaukee, the story continued: “More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ago.” That’s 30 out of a number that the New York Times does not disclose, making it a numerator without a denominator—though the story makes reference to the (steady) crime rate in Newark, which is the 69th largest city in the country, so depending on how thorough the Times‘ survey was, it’s possible that half or more of the cities it contacted did not report any increase in violence.

      And when the story rephrases the data, it’s clear that “increases in violence” is a flexible concept: “Yet with at least 35 of the nation’s cities reporting increases in murders, violent crimes or both, according to a recent survey, the spikes are raising alarm among urban police chiefs.” How many cities actually had a rise in homicides–the statistic that justifies the story’s lead about “cities across the nation…seeing a startling rise in murders”? Remarkably, the Times story doesn’t say.

    • Fox’s Bill O’Reilly Accuses Jorge Ramos Of Enabling Murderers By Opposing His Proposed “Kate’s Law”

      O’REILLY: Now, we want Kate’s Law, which would say, if an aggravated felon — someone convicted of an aggravated felony in the United States is deported and comes back, mandatory five year prison, can get more, all right, in a federal penitentiary. You support that?

      RAMOS: No. Because I don’t think–

      O’REILLY: It’s outrageous. It’s outrageous.

      RAMOS: –you are approaching the problem in a global way. And this is a problem. I’m not here to be defend criminals.

    • Sean Hannity Calls Black Lives Matter A “Racist Group Threatening To Kill Cops And Kill White People”
  • Censorship

    • Twitter Suspends ‘Pirate’ Site Accounts Over Dubious Claims

      Twitter has suspended the accounts of two popular torrent and linking sites in response to dubious takedown notices. The accounts in question didn’t link to any infringing material on Twitter, but were called out because their websites allow people to download pirated movies.

  • Privacy

    • HIV clinic data breach

      “EU needs to finish its work on data protection so that better enforcement and fines of 2% of turnover make this a board room issue for every organisation.”

    • Top HIV Clinic Accidentally Reveals The Identity Of Hundreds Of Its Patients

      The e-newsletter, which contains the latest information about HIV services and treatment, is sent out monthly but normally the details of recipients are hidden. Instead the full list of recipients was visible, therefore revealing the fact that everyone in the address bar is HIV-positive. The clinic then sent an email trying to recall the original one, alerting patients to the mistake, before sending a further email apologising.

    • Judge: Rights of ‘tens of millions violated’ by NSA phone data program

      A federal judge, whose ruling against the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone data was overturned by an appeals court last week, maintained Wednesday that he believed the surveillance program violated the constitutional rights of “tens of millions of people every single day.”

      With the case back in his court, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon urged conservative activist Larry Klayman to amend his challenge to the NSA program, suggesting that he would again rule to block the bulk collection before it expires Nov. 29.

    • Episode V: The Snoopers’ Charter Strikes Back!
    • Three French NGOs Challenge French International Surveillance

      Today, the non-profit ISPs FDN and the FDN Federation as well as La Quadrature du Net announced the introduction of two legal challenges before the French Council of State against the Internet surveillance activities of French foreign intelligence services (DGSE). As the French government plans the introduction of a new bill on international surveillance, these challenges underline the need for a thorough oversight of surveillance measures.

  • Civil Rights

    • When the Politics Has to Stop

      There are times when political considerations must give way to the relief of immediate human suffering. The current refugee crisis is one of those times and the UK must take genuine refugees on the same scale as Germany, starting immediately.

    • 6 charts and a map that show where Europe’s refugees are coming from – and the perilous journeys they are taking

      More migrants and refugees are arriving in Europe than ever recorded before as war, persecution and poverty continues to drive people from their homes – and the numbers are still rising.

      One in every 122 people in the world is currently either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum because the “world is a mess”, according to the head of the UN’s refugee agency.

    • Germany raises estimate on refugee arrivals to 800,000 this year

      218,221 asylum applications filed in first half of 2015, and government more than doubles forecast for year from original 300,000

    • British public spreads ‘refugees welcome’ message online

      Yesterday’s tragic images of a young Syrian boy washed ashore on a beach in Turkey have shocked many Britons into using social media to say that those fleeing war and persecution are welcome in the UK.

      People across Britain are calling on the government to address the plight of those trying to escape conflict in their home countries.

    • We asked David Cameron if Britain can do more to help refugees like Aylan Kurdi. His answer? ‘We’re doing enough’

      David Cameron has responded to photographs of a dead Syrian child washed up on a Turkish beach by telling The Independent that Britain is doing enough to help refugees.

      A string of politicians and charities have urged the Prime Minister to do more to improve the desperate plight of those fleeing war-torn countries, following The Independent’s publication of the powerful images of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi.

      Thousands have signed a petition calling on the Government to ensure the UK works with other European Union countries to set and welcome a quota of refugees.

      The pictures were sent to Downing Street, whose response suggests the Prime Minister is content the UK should not do any more to improve the ongoing crisis.

    • Jeremy Corbyn blasts David Cameron for ‘wholly inadequate’ response to refugee crisis after images of drowned Syrian child emerge

      Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at David Cameron over his “wholly inadequate” response to the Syrian refugee crisis, after the emergence of powerful images showing a dead child washed up on beach in Turkey.

      The Labour leadership front-runner said Britain was being “shamed by our European neighbours” by refusing to take in more than just a few hundred Syrian refugees and said we were failing in our duty under international law and “as human beings” to offer those fleeing conflict a place of safety.

    • Refugee crisis: David Cameron is placing himself on the wrong side of history

      Downing Street isn’t saying whether David Cameron has seen the photo of the little boy in the red shirt and the blue shorts. I’m not entirely sure why. Actually, the little boy is still wearing his shoes. I’ve only just noticed that. I think it’s his shoes that make it look like he’s only sleeping.

      Anyway, it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t have to look at it. In fact, he shouldn’t have to. None of us should.

      There are lots of very difficult decisions you have to make as prime minister. Whether to go to war. When to make peace. Where the axe of austerity should fall. Where the hand should be stayed.

    • Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence

      Just as there is no moral equivalence of a rapist and the rape victim, there is none between the police and Blacks. It is nowhere near a 50/50 equivalence of blame between the police and Blacks, though it is not surprising that there may be some Black pastors or some in the NAACP who will equally tell police and Blacks to tone down the rhetoric, or worse tell only Blacks to do so. It is not a school ground situation where a principal may tell two boys who are fighting to just shake hands and make peace.

    • Journalists arrested on terrorism charges in Turkey for using crypto software

      Three journalists working with Vice News have been charged with “engaging in terrorist activity” on behalf of ISIL (ISIS), because one of them used encryption software. A Turkish official told Al Jazeera: “The main issue seems to be that the [journalists'] fixer uses a complex encryption system on his personal computer that a lot of ISIL militants also utilise for strategic communications.” There are no details as to what that “complex encryption system” might be, but it seems likely that it is nothing more than the PGP email encryption software, or perhaps the The Onion Router (TOR) system, both of which are very widely used, and not just by ISIL.

      The correspondent and cameraman for Vice News, who are both British, and their fixer, who is Iraqi but Turkey-based, were arrested last Thursday in Diyarbakir, located in south-eastern Turkey, and an important centre for the country’s Kurdish population. According to The Guardian, the Vice News journalists were covering “recent clashes between Turkish security forces and the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement, the youth wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).”

    • New York TSA agent charged with molesting traveler in bogus search

      A Transportation Security Administration agent at New York’s LaGuardia Airport was arrested after being accused of luring a woman to an airport bathroom under the pretense of a security search and molesting her, authorities said on Friday.

      The suspect, identified by officials as Maxie Oquendo, 40, was wearing a TSA uniform when he brought the 22-year-old traveler to an upstairs bathroom and molested her on Tuesday night, according to Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

  • DRM

    • FCC Fires Wi-Fi Router Salvo in Battle of DRM vs. Open Source

      Digital Rights Management (DRM), the backbone of copyright protection for every form of digital property from games and software to ebooks and music is finally coming to blows with its natural enemy: the open-source software movement.

      The fight is rooted in the longstanding belief of organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) that DRM and open source are “fundamentally incompatible” and comes to the fore on an unlikely front: Wi-Fi routers.

TechBytes Episode 89: Chromebooks, Privacy, and Vista 10

Posted in TechBytes at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes 2015

Direct download as Ogg (2:14:03, 59.0 MB) | High-quality MP3 (30.7 MB)

Summary: An episode which focuses on the rise of Chromebooks, serious issues pertaining to privacy, media bias, and the demise of Windows

This is the first show to have been recorded this year and hopefully the resumption of TechBytes as a weekly of bi-weekly show. We are hoping to facilitate live broadcasting of the show as well (coming soon). The show officially turns 5 in just 4 weeks from now.

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.

As embedded (HTML5):

Download:

Ogg Theora
(There is also an MP3 version)

09.02.15

Links 2/9/2015: Chromebooks and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 6:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Rackspace developer advocate on getting started with open source

    There are several reasons. If you have an idea for a utility or framework or whatever, and you would like the support of an entire community of developers, open source is a great way to go. If you want your code “out there” so it can be reviewed and critiqued (which will improve your skills), open source is a good solution. If you are just out of school and want to establish yourself and show off your coding skills, start an open source project. Finally, if you’re altruistic and just want to help the software community at large, yes, please, start an open source project.

  • Open Source Router Makes Production Debut

    Version 2.0 of CloudRouter , an open source router designed for the cloud, is actually two versions, one based on CentOS Linux, for network operators looking for a stable version with long support cycle, and another based on Fedora for rapid iteration of new features, Jay Turner, CloudRouter project lead and senior director of DevOps at IIX , tells Light Reading.

  • CloudRouter Project Brings SDN Services to the Cloud
  • CloudRouter 2.0 now generally available for the enterprise
  • Open Source CloudRouter Goes to Production
  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack: Open source transparency among the clouds

      Being a company with a core value to “Embrace Open Source,” when it came to launching a public cloud service it made sense to want that offering grounded upon powerful, versatile open source software that could deliver scalability, resiliency, and security. Because of that, it was an easy choice to base it upon OpenStack’s open source platform – and here’s why.

    • Hadoop economics is driving big data push into the enterprise, says WANdisco CEO

      More businesses may be trialling Hadoop within their organisations to gain insight into unstructured data, but it is the ability to cut storage costs that will drive mainstream enterprise adoption, according to WANdisco’s CEO.

      David Richards, the chief exec of the company which is co-headquartered between Silicon Valley and Sheffield, says that fast-growing data demands mean that those who do not adopt open source tools such as Hadoop are at a competitive disadvantage.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.0.1 Open-Source Productivity Suite at a Glance

      Ever since the LibreOffice open-source office suite was forked from the Oracle OpenOffice suite in 2010, its community of developers has been working to improve it. The latest evolution of LibreOffice, version 5.0.1, came out Aug. 27 and provides users with new features and improved performance. LibreOffice bundles multiple components as part of the suite, including the Writer Document, Calc Spreadsheet, Impress Presentation, Draw, Math Formula and Base Database applications. Being able to import and export in multiple formats has always been an important element of LibreOffice’s interoperability capabilities. In LibreOffice 5.0.1, Writer now has improved Apple Pages document import capabilities. For PDF export, the ability to time-stamp a document is now enabled. Manipulating images is now improved across the suite, with the ability to crop an image with a mouse. The Calc spreadsheet now benefits from improved formula handling as well as new conditional formatting capabilities. LibreOffice is typically available as the default office suite in many Linux distributions and is also freely available for Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows applications. Here, eWEEK takes a look at key features of LibreOffice 5.0.1.

  • Education

    • Linux Format 202 – Coding Academy
    • Open Source Learning

      So for this issue that coincides with pupils around the country heading back to school, we’re supplying our own guide to help you and your children get a head start with coding in Python, using the Pi at school, choosing the best languages for the jobs you want to do and taking a first step into developing web applications.

  • Funding

    • How to make money from open source software

      Last month we looked at the argument that the open source business model is flawed because selling maintenance and support subscriptions doesn’t provide companies with enough revenue to differentiate their products from the underlying open source software or to compete with the sales and marketing efforts of proprietary software companies. The argument was advanced by Peter Levine, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz.

    • Community Versus Funding: What Open Source Needs Most

      At the recent Open Daylight Summit, Margaret Chiosi, the Distinguished Network Architect said, “We don’t need money. We need participants. We need people to work on use cases and bust things out.” In other words, the open source community is at a point where it needs involvement more than dollars.

      Open source increasingly depends on end-users who will create code, contribute documentation, and innovate to make open source projects relevant and useful. In order for open source to continue its upwards trajectory, fully engaged end-users that together create a vibrant and active community are necessary.

  • BSD

    • LLVM 3.7.0 Officially Released

      LLVM 3.7 along with sub-projects like Clang 3.7.0 have been officially released this afternoon.

      Hans Wennborg announced 3.7.0 a few minutes ago on the mailing list. “This release contains the work of the LLVM community over the past six months: full OpenMP 3.1 support (behind a flag), the On Request Compilation (ORC) JIT API, a new backend for Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF), Control Flow Integrity checking, as well as improved optimizations, new Clang warnings, many bug fixes, and more.”

  • Programming

    • Bloke clicks GitHub ‘commit’ button in Visual Studio, gets slapped with $6,500 AWS bill

      A web developer from South Africa said a bug in a tool for using Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE with code-sharing site GitHub inadvertently exposed his sensitive data – and the error cost him more than $6,500 (£4,250) in just a few hours.

      Carlo van Wyk of Cape Town–based Humankode said he used the GitHub Extension for Visual Studio 2015 to commit one of his local Git code repositories to a private repository on GitHub.

      Unfortunately, however – and unknown to van Wyk at the time – a bug in the extension caused his code to be committed to a public GitHub repository, rather than a private one as he intended.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Blood moon has some expecting end of the world

      There will be blood in September — literally, according to the Internet postings of end-times believers.

      The night of September 27-28 will bring a “blood moon.” To skywatchers, it simply refers to the copper color the moon takes on during an eclipse, but to some Christian ministers, the fourth and final eclipse in a tetrad — four consecutive total lunar eclipses, each separated by six lunar months — fulfills biblical prophecy of the apocalypse. (The first three in the series took place April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; and April 4, 2015.)

      In promotion for his 2013 book “Four Blood Moons,” Christian minister John Hagee claimed that the tetrad was a sign of the end.

      “The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015,” he said.

    • 65 per cent of Europe’s electronic waste is stolen or mismanaged

      Something stinks about Europe’s trash. A two-year investigation into Europe’s electronic waste found that most of it is stolen, mismanaged, illegally traded, or just plain thrown away.

      The European Union has guidelines on how to correctly dispose of unwanted electronics, like IT equipment, household appliances, or medical devices. But, according to a report published Sunday by the United Nations University and INTERPOL, only 35 per cent of electronic waste was disposed of correctly in 2012.

  • Security

    • Sick of memorizing passwords? A Turing Award winner came up with this algorithmic trick

      Manuel Blum, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who won the Turing Award in 1995, has been working on what he calls “human computable” passwords that are not only relatively secure but also don’t require us to memorize a different one for each site. Instead, we learn ahead of time an algorithm and a personal, private key, and we use them with the website’s name to create and re-create our own unique passwords on the fly for any website at any time.

    • Car thieves use ‘mystery device’ to break into vehicles

      A car manufacturer recalled more than a million cars following security concerns about car hacking, as the National Insurance Crime Bureau issued an alert about a “mystery device” being used to break into vehicles by defeating the electronic locking system of later-model cars.

      So-called connected car “convenience technology” could put consumers at risk.

      “Right now, what has happened is the digital key fob has become a way for someone to steal your car,” NICB investigator James “Herb” Price said.

    • Security Considerations When Moving from VMs to Containers

      We recently ran a sponsored series from Fox Technologies on Linux.com. We want to thank the company for its support and for sharing useful information for SysAdmins and developers alike. Fox Technologies is continuing the conversation with a free webinar September 17 that will address security considerations in moving from VMs to containers. More information about this webinar is below.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Man convicted of baking dog in oven back in jail

      A man convicted of a gruesome crime involving a dog is back in jail Tuesday morning.

      Joel Clark was convicted of torturing or mutilating an animal, for baking a dog in an oven.

      Just last week, a judge sentenced him to home detention at Good News Ministries and community service with an animal rescue. Clark was not allowed to have direct contact with the animals.

    • Why wind — and soon solar — are already cheaper than fossil fuels

      Citigroup has published an analysis of the costs of various energy sources called “Energy Darwinism II.” It concludes that if all the costs of generation are included (known as the levelized cost of energy), renewables turn out to be cheaper than fossil fuels and a “benefit rather than a cost to society,” RenewEconomy reports.

      “Capital costs are often cited by the promoters of fossil fuels as evidence that coal and gas are, and will, remain cheaper than renewable energy sources such as wind and gas. But this focuses on the short-term only — a trap repeated by opponents of climate action and clean energy, who focus on the upfront costs of policies.

      Actually, fuel costs can “account for 80 per cent of the cost of gas-fired generation, and more than half the cost of coal,” RenewEconomy says.

    • Experts call for immediate halt to £7,000-per-badger cull

      Three senior scientists who collectively produced two decades of government research on controlling badgers to reduce bovine TB are among a group of eminent experts to call for an immediate halt to the badger cull. The intervention comes as figures reveal the government has spent nearly £7,000 killing each badger so far.

      Professor Lord Krebs, Professor John Bourne and Professor Ranald Munro write of their disappointment that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has extended the controversial cull to Dorset and called on it to immediately reconsider its decision to continue culling badgers.

    • US Leads World in Credulous Reports of ‘Lagging Behind’ Russia

      On Sunday, the New York Times maintained a long, proud tradition of uncritically repeating official claims that the US—despite having twice the population, eight times the military budget and a nominal economy almost ten times as large—is “lagging behind” Russia on a key military strategic objective…

      [...]

      So here we have it: Pro-NATO think tanks and military brass feed a narrative to the Times, the Times prints it with little skepticism, then these very same forces turn around and use this reporting to justify its military buildup. The crucial question as to whether or not America is objectively “lagging behind” is never really approached critically.

      More importantly, the normative question as to whether the US has any intrinsic obligation or right to maintain parity with Russia in the Arctic is never brought up. The assumption is just taken for granted, and once it is, US military officials and their friendly establishment press are off to the races debating how—not if—they can amass more military brass in another corner of the globe.

      [...]

      This is nothing new, of course. Ominous warnings about “gaps” with the Russians are a decades-long tradition in US and Western media. Over the past few years alone, the US has “lagged behind” the dreaded Russians in the following departments:

      Cyber security

      Online and traditional propaganda

      Space race

      “Military tactics”

      Nuclear technology

      Now let’s remember: Russia’s military budget is one-eighth the size of the US’s—and 1/14th as large as NATO’s cumulative $1 trillion in annual military spending. But we’ve been here before. During the Cold War, the public was constantly told the US was “lagging behind” Russia in developing enough nuclear weapons.

    • WTO Ruling Against India’s Solar Push Threatens Climate, Clean Energy

      The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday ruled against India over its national solar energy program in a case brought by the U.S. government, sparking outrage from labor and environmental advocates.

      As power demands grow in India, the country’s government put forth a plan to create 100,000 megawatts of energy from solar cells and modules, and included incentives to domestic manufacturers to use locally-developed equipment.

  • Finance

    • Putin says dump dollar

      Russian President Vladimir Putin has drafted a bill that aims to eliminate the US dollar and the euro from trade between CIS countries.

      This means the creation of a single financial market between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and other countries of the former Soviet Union.

    • The Washington Post and the Federal Reserve Cult

      It’s always dangerous when followers of an insular cult gain positions of power. Unfortunately, that appears to be the case with the Washington Post editorial board and the Federal Reserve Board cultists.

      The Federal Reserve Board cultists adhere to a bizarre belief that the 19 members (12 voting) of the Federal Reserve Board’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) live in a rarified space where the narrow economic concerns of specific interest groups don’t impinge on their thinking. According to the cultists, when the Fed sits down to decide on its interest rate policy, they are acting solely for the good of the country.

      Those of us who live in the reality-based community know that the Fed is hugely responsive to the interests of the financial sector. There are many reasons for this. First, the 12 Fed district banks are largely controlled by the banks within the district, which directly appoint one-third of the bank’s directors. The presidents of these banks occupy 12 of the 19 seats (five of the voting seats) on the FOMC.

  • Censorship

    • Finnish news sites rein in unruly comment sections

      Editors point to a spike in hate speech and insults in recent weeks, particularly related to immigration and asylum-seeker issues.

      [...]

      Two of Finland’s largest media sites on Tuesday decided to curtail or
      halt public comment on their websites.

    • Lawyer: Turkey Arrested Journalists to Deter Foreign Media

      A lawyer representing two Vice News journalists and their assistant on Tuesday denounced a Turkish court’s decision to arrest them on terror-related charges, calling it a government attempt to deter foreign media from reporting on the conflict with Kurdish rebels.

      The arrests have prompted strong protests from media rights advocates, the U.S. and the European Union.

  • Privacy

    • What Can you Learn from Metadata?

      An Australian reporter for the ABC, Will Ockenden published a bunch of his metadata, and asked people to derive various elements of his life. They did pretty well, even though they were amateurs, which should give you some idea what professionals can do.

    • How your phone tracks your every move

      In the digital age, how much of your life is actually private? To find out, ABC reporter Will Ockenden got access to his metadata. This is what that data looks like.

    • What reporter Will Ockenden’s metadata reveals about his life
    • Wall Street Journal Scores Very Limited Win In Fight With DOJ Over Sealed Surveillance Documents

      Yes, the WSJ has a right to see these files… but not until the DOJ decides these investigations are really and truly over — a determination that has yet to be reached for files zooming past the half-decade mark.

      The oral arguments delivered in June provide a little more insight into the DOJ’s thought processes — mainly that it should be the sole arbiter of document releases. The DOJ went past the constraints of its earlier argument — that “open” investigations are not subject to “common law access” — by claiming that documents used in the course of investigations, even closed ones, are not public records.

    • Ashley Madison Code Shows More Women, and More Bots

      After searching through the Ashley Madison database and private email last week, I reported that there might be roughly 12,000 real women active on Ashley Madison. Now, after looking at the company’s source code, it’s clear that I arrived at that low number based in part on a misunderstanding of the evidence. Equally clear is new evidence that Ashley Madison created more than 70,000 female bots to send male users millions of fake messages, hoping to create the illusion of a vast playland of available women.

  • Civil Rights

    • Hungary Shuts Down Budapest Train Station To Curb Migrant Travel

      The closure of the station appeared prompted in part by pressure from other European Union nations trying to cope with the influx of thousands of migrants flowing through Hungary. Europe has been overwhelmed by a surge of migrants, with over 332,000 arriving so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

    • Massive Right to Water Protest in Dublin as Political Policing of Activists Continues

      Over 100,000 Irish Water protesters turned up on Saturday for another massive show of opposition towards the unfair second tax on the nation’s water supply. The high numbers were a definite message to the unpopular Fine Gael and Labour government. The movement which is made up of many parts, will not be going anywhere until they end their plan to continue with a tax that is one too many under the austerity policy.

    • Former US Secret Service special agent admits Silk Road bitcoin theft

      A FORMER US SECRET SERVICE AGENT HAD ADMITTED to charges relating to the theft of digital currency collected during the investigations into the Silk Road and its criminal activities.

      The Silk Road is, or was, an online bazaar for the sort of things that can be bought in the real world. It was smashed apart by hard working agents in a successful effort that was later revealed to be tarnished.

      Unfortunately two lone, former secret service workers have put their hands up to the theft of bitcoins gathered during the raids, and admitted that this was the wrong thing to do.

    • West Point Prof Who Called For Killing Of Academics Opposed To US Terror War Resigns

      Over the weekend, Spencer Ackerman published a fairly incredible story about a newly appointed West Point professor, William Bradford, who had written a paper, published in the National Security Law Journal, entitled Trahison Des Professeurs, in which he argues (among other things) that US academics who oppose current US anti-terror policy should themselves be targets for killing as a “fifth column.”

    • Fox’s Katie Pavlich Says BLM Is A “Movement That Promotes The Execution Of Police Officers”
    • Criminology Professor Explains To Bill O’Reilly Why It’s Wrong To Link BLM To Murders Of Police Officers

      Dr. Peter Moskos: “There’s Not A Result Of Cops Getting Killed From Black Lives Matter … There Are Fewer Cops Shot This Year Than Last Year. Are You Willing To Give Black Lives Matter Credit For That?”

    • 7 Moments In History When The UK Welcomed Refugees

      The government is coming under increasing pressure to take in more refugees from the war in Syria, with former foreign secretary David Miliband saying on Wednesday that not welcoming more refugees would be “an abandonment of the UK’s humanitarian traditions” of the 1930s and ’40s.

      However, David Cameron has said there is little point taking in “more and more” refugees, adding that it’s more important to bring “peace and stability” to the areas refugees are coming from. So far, 216 people have been accepted under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, with a further 2,000 asylum applications from Syrians in the 12 months before June.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • TPP Could Block Copyright Fair Use

        The recent leak of the intellectual property chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, currently entering its 7th year of negotiation, shows that New Zealand’s negotiators are doing a good job holding the line against more restrictive copyright laws. Things like allowing righsholders to veto parallel imports, mandatory statutory damages and requiring consent for transient automatic copying of files as they transfer across the internet, which would have taken an axe to our copyright law, now all appear to be off the table. Unfortunately, longer copyright terms and criminalisation of technological protection measures are still there, so not all is won.

        I’ve written before though about some of the things that aren’t even in TPP and which are needed to level the playing field, particularly with the US. One of those things is fair use, a US law defence, which creates a broad and flexible exception to the exclusive rights a rightsholder would otherwise have. So, for example, US cases have held 2 Live Crew’s parody of Roy Orbison’s Oh, Pretty Woman, even though it was for commercial gain, was fair use. Links and thumbnails created by search engines have also been held to be fair use. Google also claims that its scanning of tens of millions of books without permission, is fair use. Timeshifting TV programmes for later viewing is fair use. The US Supreme Court has sent Google and Oracle back to the Federal Court in San Francisco to decide if Google’s use of Oracle owned java APIs is fair use. The list goes on. Of course, for a rightsholder, a successful fair use defence can put a big hole in its exclusive rights – that’s why Oracle is fighting so hard in its API case.

      • Why Shouldn’t Copyright Be Infinite?

        Australia National University’s Dr. George Barker suggested that New Zealand could do well by strengthening its copyright legislation. He warned against the fair dealing exceptions that have crept into the law and asked, “Why not have copyright law like property law—i.e. it lasts forever?”

        That is a good question. And it is an important one as New Zealand and other countries consider extending the term of copyright under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Current New Zealand law maintains copyright in written and artistic works for 50 years after the death of the writer. Copyright in film and sound recordings is shorter, lasting 50 years from the works being first made available. While the text of the TPP is not yet public, it appears that the agreement would extend copyright’s duration to 70 years from the death of the creator.

      • US Govt. Denies Responsibility for Megaupload’s Servers

        The U.S. Government says it’s in no way responsible for the fate of Megaupload’s servers, which were raided and seized as part of the criminal proceedings against the file-sharing site. The authorities reject the proposal that they should buy the servers to preserve user data and other evidence.

Software Patent From Troll Called ‘Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations’ a Symptom of a Rotten Patent System

Posted in Patents at 1:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yet another “over the Internet” patent gets flagged

Salford Quays

Summary: Another example of patent trolls and software patents as gatekeepers and parasites, denying access to very trivial ideas or implementations

“Stupid Patent Of The Month” this month was mentioned by the EFF on the last day of August, giving us another glimpse at “over the Internet” patents — so-called ‘innovations’ that basically involve just connecting an existing thing to the Internet. It’s a sham and an embarrassment to the USPTO. Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations is just a litigation apparatus, which makes it a classic patent troll, not just holder of an ugly patent.

The EFF’s rant (composed by Daniel Nazer) was reprinted in TechDirt, as usual, stating: “Imagine if the inventor of the Segway claimed to own “any thing that moves in response to human commands.” Or if the inventor of the telegraph applied for a patent covering any use of electric current for communication. Absurdly overbroad claims like these would not be allowed, right? Unfortunately, the Patent Office does not do a good job of policing overly broad claims. August’s Stupid Patent of the Month, U.S. Patent No. 8,788,090, is a stark example of how these claims promote patent trolling.

“A patent troll called Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, LLC (“RCDI”) owns a family of patents on a system of customizing products. Each of these patents stems from the same 2006 application. The idea is simple: connect some kind of product mixer to the Internet and allow users to make custom orders. The application suggests using the system to make beverages or shampoo.”

This is basically a software patent and it ought to be thrown out along with many other patents that are equally ridiculous. Watch Apple‘s latest ludicrous patent to have made headlines. Putting smoke detection “over the Internet” or “on a phone” is now deemed patentable too? Were the patent examiners drunk?

“The problem is not just various particular companies but the system itself. Until or unless it correct itself this abuse will carry on.”“Patents need to be questioned,” wrote IP Kat today, “questioning whether we have that balance right.” Alluding to the recent articles from The Economist (almost a month later), the author “notes the magazine’s support for the abolition of the UK patent system in the 19th century. The Economist is not immune to flip-flopping (e.g. flip-flops on African economies). TechDirt finds flip-flops on patents in the last five years. In 2015, The Economist is arguing in favour of patent policy reform with higher thresholds for patentability and shorter terms in what they call a “rough-and-ready” system.”

It is clear that the aforementioned RCDI patent is not just some rotten apple. Many other patents are equally ridiculous if not even more ridiculous. The problem is not just various particular companies but the system itself. Until or unless it correct itself this abuse will carry on.

When Even Patent Lawyers’ Blogs Acknowledge the Rapid Demise of Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 12:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Manchester studies

Summary: Voices for patents are accepting the new order wherein software patents are hardly potent at all (and increasingly difficult to acquire)

TECHRIGHTS has chronicled the post-Alice aftermath and the demise of software patents in the United States for well over a year. We wrote about the subject dozens of times and gave examples of cases that demonstrate change, both at the courts (rulings against patents) and at the patent office (examination guidelines being tightened).

The USPTO‘s evolving guidelines for examiners are very much instructed by courts’ decisions. Each time a court invalidates a patent granted by the USPTO it serves to discredit the USPTO and decrease confidence in (or perceived worth of) USPTO patents. According to this interesting new post from a pro-patents blog, the “USPTO provides the following data on petitions challenging examiner decisions:

– the average decision time on petitions challenging a final Restriction Requirement is 91 days, with a 47% grant rate.

– the average decision time on petitions challenging the finality of a rejection is 46 days, with a 39% grant rate.

There are many more statistics there, based on petitioners’ data. Even more interesting, however, was this other pro-patents blog. Usually patent lawyers are denying the magnitude and weight of the Alice case, but this one admits the harsh reality (for patent lawyers):

Courts Everywhere are Finding Software Patents Invalid, So What Next?

[...]

The Supreme Court’s June 2014 ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank calls into question the eligibility for patent protection of these issued utility patents on computer software, and is a barrier to future applications on computer software. Alice and its progeny compel software developers to look beyond patents to protect their intellectual property. What are these alternatives? When and how can they be used?

In Alice, the Supreme Court found that an issued patent protecting high frequency trading software was invalid because it was directed to patent ineligible subject matter. Unfortunately, the Court provided little or no direction as to how to determine patent ineligibility. The Court said that a “patent-ineligible concept” is “an abstract idea.” So the natural next question must be: What is an abstract idea? The Court defined “an abstract idea” as “[a]n idea of itself,” or one that is “a fundamental truth.”

With the issued patent challenged in Alice, the Court used this definition to deem them directed to an “abstract idea” and therefore patent ineligible. But the Court did not explain how the patented claims were “drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement” in the high frequency trading software realm. The Court did not pinpoint what fundamental truth the patents purported to protect such that they were ineligible.

We are gratified to see that people no other than the pro-patents crowd are coming to grips with the demise of software patents, even in the United States.

The threat of software patents in Europe persists, however, due to gross abuse by EPO management and other autocrats. “Software [is] not patentable in France,” wrote the President of the FFII today, “but French courts will be replaced by biased Unitary patent courts” (as covered here before).

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