Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
AMD

Journal Journal: TechCrunch and Wired Lead Anti-PR Revolt 3

Ever wondered how the tech press all ends up talking about the same stuff at the same time and why so many stories look like dupes that make Slashdot look original? There was an editorial revolt against PR practices by TechCrunch and Wired spills all the beans. TechCrunch is tired of "Embargos", a practice where talking points are issued to everyone who's willing to wait till a specified date to publish. Both TechCrunch and Wired are fed up with spams by people too lazy to build propper relationships. Both report ugly details of abusive manipulation by the PR firms and their masters. Though TechCrunch apparently fears Waggener Edstrom, they were happy to show off an ugly letter from someone from a weaker firm. The arrogance displayed is breathtaking.

Lois is one of the most obnoxious PR people you'll ever meet, and the poster child for everything that is wrong with the industry. ... Lois takes pleasure in making people miserable, and her specialty is spamming. ... [here's what she wrote someone who asked to be removed from a list] "CES publishes a list of press. You are one of a few thousand. ... I have seen nasty people like you melt away faster than a snowball going up hill in the rain. I am waiting for an apology. Maybe we can meet at CES for a hug or a slug. P.S. I just visited your web site. I would hardly call your blog a publication, However, you do have very interesting content ...."

Translation: eat my spam or die. TechCrunch thinks the PR firm's days are over,

As the economy turns south, PR firms are under increasing pressure to perform and justify their monthly retainers which range from $10,000 to $30,000 or more. In short, they have to spam the tech world to get coverage, or lose their jobs.

It's good to revolt against these practices but they only scrape the surface of what's wrong with tech writing. Neither deals with OEM manipulation that always backs up the worst of hack writing. PR firms are also engaged in a whole other world of abuse, astroturf and heckling designed to stifle academic and professional conversations which fall outside of market force control. The sooner these games end, the better informed all of us will be. Traditional news has long failed to inform, now much of it also fails to make money.

Story also submitted to firehose.

Updates

Windows

Journal Journal: Vista Still Not Out of the Box Ready, Breaks DHCP.

Yet another reviewer is tempted to Vista's annoyances and finds it still lacking.

Yes, I finally slowed down enough to let the Microsoft Vista steamroller catch me. ...

Although this PC is aimed at home and small business users, the Out Of Box Experience would make many of the people I know in those categories uncomfortable. First, the network connection didn't work. ... Second, the HP TotalCare and other setup crap gets really annoying. I'm almost certain I will delete most of these helper programs, but I'm going through all the standard steps just so I can feel the pain of all the users getting new Vista PCs this holiday. ... I had to download four big update files. I don't think these were for Microsoft, but for HP's software. Even more aggravating, while the main download popup windows sat in the middle of the screen, the task bar popups alerted me to start the exact updates that were already in progress. Speaking of progress, there doesn't seem to be much in this installation sequence over XP, at least not so far. ... Remember when nag screens were what you got from trial software, not purchased products? ... No sound from the speakers during installation, even though HP put a volume setting on the display like there should be sound. [he had to download drivers to make it work]

Elswhere, he describes his frustration with Vista networking.

Now that my sound function works, and I vented about the User Access Control, let's get to a serious problem: networking. ... Microsoft's bizarre configuration change turned DHPC into a source of incredible frustration. I've been fighting networks for over two decades and never, ever had to worry about DHCP before, but that was before Microsoft's incompetence with Vista.

Too bad he did not buy an HP system with GNU/Linux instead.

Windows

Journal Journal: Stephen Fry's Vista Melt Down.

This one is worth preserving.

I hate Vista so much I want to cry. Bought a Vaio. The most useless $4k ever spent. It just will not join a sec-enabled network. ... I have nine macs!!!!!! I don't need another fucking mac. I just want ONE ARSING PC that isn't complete SHIT. ... Too late. It's going out the window. I can't put up with this sort of arse. Listemn I have parallels, I have fusion, I have 2 distros of Linux. I need jsut one, just 1 of cunting Vista so that I can review things. Forgive intemperate language, but every time I buy a PC they're worse, not better than they were before and it make me so angry I could kill. ... I've calmed down now. Vista and PCs are so crap it's funny

Nothing is so sad as the tears of a clown. Give up Steve, Vista's not worth your efforts.

The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: Michael Lewis Bloggs the Financial Crisis.

If you want an inside understanding of the current financial bust, you could ask the man who wrote Liar's Poker. Or you could read his great essay on it.

Update March 23, 2009

Despite the extended looting and accompanying sucker's rally on Wall Street today, the current predatory lending and investment fraud crisis is showing it's true magnitude. Small wars have cost less than what this crisis has already cost and we are looking at the start of losses, not their end. Other interesting summaries come from Rolling Stone and alternet [2]. The people who described 12 deregulatory steps bought with $5 billion in lobby money can rightly say, "we told you so," have some interesting regulatory remedies. Here are a few interesting links that chronicle the details of the mess:

2008

  • March 14 - Greg Pallast says the removal of Elliot Spitzer on private prostitution charges was done to make "bailouts," bank mergers and nationalization possible. He also gives a nice summary of the working of the predatory lending and "sub prime" mortgage scams. Stats: $250 Billion to bankers, 2 million homeowners on brink of forclosure.
  • October 13 - Naomi Klein notices the "bailout" is little more than public looting. There has been no "nationalization" of banks because they are under no obligations. She further predicts that bankers will be back for more. Stats: $700 Billion spent.
  • October 23 - U.S. Security and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox repudiates deregulation policies, "The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work." He's talking about the "Enron loophole" where energy futures were and still are traded on the unregulated Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) where rampant speculation blew the price of oil and fattened oil company proffits. The price of oil doubled normally between 1988 to 2000 but the the market was deregulated in 1998 and 2002, shooting the price from $36 in 2000 to $60 in 2005 then a staggering $110 per barrel in 2008. This resulted in high gasoline prices that precipitated the housing collapse.
  • November 27 - Alan Greenspan admits he was wrong about deregulating derivatives markets.

2009

  • January 19 - Truthout jeers the second round of public looting that does little for homeowners and proposes two reasonable alternatives. The second alternative to TARP 2 is to give homeowners the difference between bubble price and current fair value instead of the banks. That would give people the ability to make their payments and rescue the banks. As things are proposed, homeowners end up with a lower priced mortgage but no equity or way to make payments and banks will end up blighted property owners anyway.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Evidence of Firehose Gaming. 6

The Twitter Firehose Gaming Index

The ratio of twitter items to items by others in a given user's personal firehose.

My submissions are buried almost immediately but a good 14% of them are published anyway, so I'm sure that the system is being gamed and the firehose supports this. My submissions get more than their fair share of attention from usual suspects. No experiment is complete without verification, so I have to admit I've done some of this myself but efforts were quickly overwhelmed by the pros who use botnets. Slashdot editors are in a better position to spot this kind of activity and should take action to protect the site.

So, what should normal firehose numbers look like? Slashdot runs about 25 stories a day. That stacks up to about 750 a month and 9,000 each year. For each story there are hundreds of submissions. I average about 10 front page stories per year, around 0.1% of Slashdot. My submissions make an even smaller proportion of the overall firehose because I'm nowhere near a hall of famer and of the constant bombardment by ACs and troll accounts. Different people have different interests, so I'd expect those who's interest match mine to represent me a little better but order of magnitude differences are suspicious. That sets a rather low barrier of 1%. While that's not hard to find in the small samples easily available, hit ratios of 2, 5 or 20% are obvious gaming.

Different people also have different ways of using the firehose. Some ignore it and their personal firehose contains nothing but their own comments. Others only have front page stories in their personal firehose. Because I was only interested in submission gaming, I ignored comment posts and concentrated on submissions, journals and mainpage stories.

Here's what I found:

  • Keith Russell 84 checked 12/09/2008 to 12/2005, 36 his own posts (mostly sports), 40 others (mostly M$ stuff), 8 twitter 8/48= 17%
  • JWilcox154 has 6 twitter and 125 others. in 2008, 8 and 192 total to 7/21/2007. almost all others nod/nixed are front page stories. 6/131 = 5%
  • Macthrope has 2 of 48 back to 3/12/2007 almost all are his own comments. 2/50 = 4%
  • Dedazo 134 total, almost all of his own stuff. 5 twitter and 19 others, 5/24 = 21%
  • Renegadesx 49 total, 1 twitter, 19 others. 1/20=5%

The sum of these accounts is more damning than each individual because the statistics add up. It is good evidence of general gaming.

It is stunning that people doing this kind of thing would leave such obvious traces. They should know that Slashdot's editors could check for this kind of activity even if ordinary users could not and could have easily hidden the activity with their multiple accounts. For instance, a person with 100 accounts can separate the few accounts used to heckle from those used to bury. Bury activity can be partially disguised with rotations and time shifting. Other M$ promotion can be distributed through all of the accounts to statistically disguise specific activity like this. That kind of thoroughness must be too much work for the hacks sent to ruin Slashdot.

Update:

I see that three trolls have come to comment. I've exposed these people's behavior before, Keith Russel, Macthorpe and dedazo [2], [3, self exposure]. These three accounts are probably the work of a single person, they all have the same things to say in the same way and the same place.

Microsoft

Journal Journal: Rob Enderle's Bitter Vista Experience. 1

Letters from the Vista Capable lawsuit show just how out of touch with reality M$ was about Vista. Ron Enderle confronted them about the problem of versioning and was abused and punished for his efforts. Enderle is a long time M$ booster and the emails show that he's willing to turn away news business and lie for M$'s sake. In hindsight, we know that Vista was a dissaster that tainted everyone who tried to push it and did indeed freeze the entire market. The released email tells this small part of the story best. Here are a few excepts Todd Bishop thought captured the moment.

"Anyway, you'll do what you do," [Enderle] wrote to Microsoft's Barry Goffe. "Dell will go along; they are just trying to miss a bullet that they, and I, know you can't even see. Let's hope we can mitigate the damage otherwise the industry is really screwed."

"Honestly, in all my years of dealing with analysts, I have never been quite so flummoxed. He is just dug in and is not willing to acknowledge reality." [Microsoft's Barry Goffe wrote to others at M$].

[the next day Enderle wrote Steve Ballmer], "We had an advisory meeting with Dell where they (made) a huge stink about your plan for Vista SKUs and asked the analysts and reporters to intervene (we were under NDA so the information was contained). So I attempted to do so and spoke with Barry Goffe who was very nice but seemed surprised that Dell had a problem (I've since spoken with the CEO of another OEM who concurred with Dell) and so went back to Dell and got the attached response. Sitting on the OEM typically is not effective at making a problem like this go away. Dell was never going to publicly roll against you they were just trying to prevent a mistake ... "

At some point I'd love to learn how to help you folks without either getting shot myself or getting someone who also depends on me shot. I figure that would be a great survival skill.

Dell left him hanging and threatened him, saying "Any assessments you make are best supported/couched in terms of your own analysis and opinion rather than communicated on Dell's behalf," and threatened, "Any conversation outside the spirit of this forum [Dell GAC discussions] are in violation of the NDA. (page 29)"

Looking again at the email, you can see why people at M$ would be angry, especially now that it's leaked out to the public. It starts on page 17 and is worth quoting because he correctly predicted the whole Vista Capable fiasco. Parts where he promises to sell out his readers are emphasized.

From: Barry Goffe
Sent: August 29, 2005 11:14 PM
To: Neil hamey; Shanen Boettcher; Brad Goldberg; Debbie Anderson
CC: Lisa Worthington (Waggener Edstrom)
Subject: FW: glass vr. non-glass

I really need your help. Lisa and I did a call this morning with Rob Enderle to go through the SKU plan. Apparently Dell leaked our SKU plan (while under NDA of course) to Rob and a bunch of other analysts and press - under the guise of an 'Advisory Council' In the process Dell did its damndest to poison Rob's thinking - and they were rather successful.

Rob's Logic is:

a.) we have been showing off this great thing called Vista
b.) it has all kind of great stuff in it, like Glass.
c.) since we have not yet talked about SKUs, all customers are expecting that all the features that we have discussed will be in the mainstream SKUs - the equivalent of XP Home today on the consumer side
d.) We are going to ship this thing called Home Basic which we are going to price the same as XP Home
e.) some of the features that we have been showing, namely glass (because I can't get Rob to come up with any other feature) will not be in the Home Basic SKU
f.) customers will perceive that we are taking stuff away from Home Basic andthat it will be looked upon as a price increase
g.) this perceived price increase will freeze the entire market.

.... Rob is quite passionate as you can see from the string below. Honestly, in all my years of dealing with analysts, I have never been quite so flummoxed. He is dug in and not willing to acknowledge reality.

From: Rob Enderle
Sent: Monday August 29, 2005 11:06 PM
To: Barry Goffe
CC: Lisa Worthington (Waggener Edstrom)
Subject: RE: glass vs. non-glass

Well this is what happens when you set expectation high then pull features out. .... Microsoft is already being lambasted for crippled Vista. If you don't know what a glass looks like full anything in it looks good, but if you know what you are missing you tent to focus on what is missing, unfortunately that is where we are now. I get to do a lot of columns these days, could guarantee each of these titles [that Vista is a rip off] not only would get published they would make the front page or pull amazing numbers. ... you are convinced the customer is getting a great deal, you are the vendor, vendors always think that ... the customer often votes their feelings with their pocketbook. One thing has changed since '85 we have blogs now. .... The press was taken through the product and every time a feature is dropped the calls come in with the take that Vista is just smoke and mirrors now, I can turn some of these but there are limitations to what I can do. ...

Anyway, you'll do what you'll do. Dell will go along, they are just trying to miss a bullet that they, and I, know you can't even see. Let's hope we can mitigate the damage otherwise the industry is really screwed.

From: Barry Goffe
Sent Monday August 29, 2005 8:29 PM
To: Rob Enderle
CC: Lisa Worthington (Waggener Edstrom)
Subject RE: glass vs. non-glass

Rob,

Thanks for taking the time to think this through some more. I really appreciate your feedback.

Please see detailed comments in line below ...

From: Rob Enderle
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2005 3:56 PM
To: Barry Goffe
CC: Lisa Worthington

There will be a lot of attention spent on the UI because that is the visual change and this is often where the Apple vs. Microsoft pieces focus. I expect we'll have a number of Linux vs. Windows pieces as well but still think most of those will focus on what you get and how much you pay ... but UI is possible.

Natuarl Headlines:

Microsoft Charges More for Less: Text focuses on what fell out of Longhorn and the price increases for the premium offering.
Buy Tablet and Media Center or Else: Text focuses on the fact that to get the good stuff you have to take other things.
If You Doubted Microsoft was a Monopoly: Rant on perceived price increases.
Microsoft Raises Tax: Avoidance Advice: Price increases with recommendation you buy either Linux or Apple (or simply not buy)
Windows Consumers get 4 Choices Business gets Screwed: Focus on disparity between consumer and business lines
Windows Vista - 7 Reasons to Switch: Focuses on complexity of offering and perceived price increases.

... What I heard was there was 4 SKUs ....

Microsoft

Journal Journal: Timeline of M$'s GNU/Linux Patent Extortion.

Here's a brief timeline of M$'s GNU/Linux patent extortion, mostly reported in their own words. It should be seen as part of a much larger attack on GNU/Linux that continues to this day. The picture that emerges is a constant drizzle of FUD, behind the scenes strong arming and finally direct and proxy lawsuits. I'll point to major refutations in this list, but the US Supreme Court has declared business method patents invalid and all but invalidated software patents, and victims having their day in court accuse Microsoft of judicial extortion that amounts to anti-trust. Laws have yet to deter Microsoft so their patent, copyright and marketing attacks on software freedom will continue until the company collapses. M$ is forced to this because no one wants their second rate tech[2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and they fail in free markets. Details from the Barns and Noble case prove that the intent was to clearly exclusionary - to saddle free software with higher costs and cripple the feature set relative to Microsoft's own software. Academic studies have shown that software patents are mostly granted to large companies who then extort the majority of people in the industry who neither want nor can afford them.

Microsoft understands that software patents themselves are fraud but has used them against competition since the late 90s and is now an innovator in fraud. Bill Gates ordered the company to start stockpiling patents in 1991 and clearly viewed them as a judicial extortion tool:

If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. I feel certain that some large company will patent some obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm, application extension or other crucial technique. If we assume this company has no need of any of our patents then the have a 17-year right to take as much of our profits as they want. The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can.

M$ considered patents an anti-competitive weapon against Open Office since 1998 and tried to tax Sun. In 2003 Bill Gates planned to lace metadata and device discovery with patents to exclude Apple. Now, M$ has taken patent fraud a step further by never telling people what patents they violate and threatening end users, much like they paid SCO to do with bogus copyrights. Yes, M$ was responsible for the SCO attack too. Microsoft has launched a loud publicity campaign to shake down companies that have nothing to do with anything owned by M$ as if they were able to charge rent on free software.

The Barns and Noble case is delivering details that prove Microsoft's strategy is to exclude free software from the market by judicial extortion. B&N accuses Microsoft of threatening all Android makers with huge costs to defend against bogus patents if they don't pay licensing fees in excess of those paid for Microsoft's software and also reduce Android's feature set to a point where Microsoft's software is competitive. The feature set reduction goes beyond the scope of the patents used to extort payment. The goal is the same as we've seen in Microsoft's OEM and retail strong arming, to make Microsoft the cheapest and best option in all cases by putting costs and restrictions onto competitors.

Here's nine years of them claiming ownership of all free software and demanding protection money to keep unspecified things from breaking.

2002 - high level planning.

  • 9/25 - Jim Alchin at a vendor meeting, "IT WILL be simply, 'Hey, these guys took intellectual property.' And whether the lawsuit comes from Wind River or in X, Y, Z, there's going to be one. Guaranteed"
  • 9/27 - Jim Alchin writes, "We need someone to tear down the indemnification offered from RedHat and IBM to customers. We need to understand exactly the risk a customer is under if a patent lawsuit happens and Linux is challenged. ... There MUST be risks to customers that are being passed on. " This email is probably what lead to the whole scam. See also the pdf from Comes vs Microsoft.

Wind River's CEO stated before the US Congress in January of 1994, "My perspective on software patents is simple: stop issuing software patents. Software patents should not exist."

2003 - M$ bankrolls the SCO copyright attack.

2004 - A fraud from day 1, the patent attack is launched.

  • 03/12 - Microsoft SCO middleman, Mike Anderer lays out Microsoft's free software patent exclusion strategy, "Microsoft may have 50 or more of these lawsuits in the queue. All of them are not asking for hundreds of millions, but most would be large enough to ruin anything but the largest companies. Red Hat did recently raise several hundred million which certainly gives them more staying power. Ultimately, I do not think any company except a few of the largest companies can offer any reasonable insulation to their customers from these types of judgments. You would need a market cap of more than a couple billion to just survive in the OS space." PJ declares it extortion, using the courts as an aggressive competitive weapon, is a misuse of the legal system. It's a form of blackmail, a leftover artifact from the dot.com bubble days. It can only work for so long before everybody gets sick of it and them and changes the patent laws.
  • 04/10 - Microsoft funded bullshitters, Alexis de Toqueville Institution, forecast a patent attack.
  • 8/2 - The Public Lie is launched by Dan Lyons on the day OSRI publishes Ravicher's study of patent threats to all software. He boosts patent claims and attacks "Linux zealots" along with Ravicher's reputation. "A report to be released today says Linux may violate nearly 300 patents, including 27 held by Microsoft, and warns that companies using Linux could become targets of multi-million-dollar lawsuits. ... the 12-employee OSRM wants to charge companies $150,000 a year for $5 million in legal coverage that kicks in if they get sued for using open-source programs like Linux. ... [this could scare] customers into dumping Linux and going back to Unix or Microsoft's Windows--products that you don't usually get sued for using. ... The OSRM report represents a new chapter in [the SCO story]." Fellow poison pen author Robert Enderle is quoted saying the same things, making OSRM and the whole story look like a M$ set up from the get go. There are so many lies in this article that it's impossible to tell who's innocent, everyone involved is smeared.
  • 11/18 - Threatens government GNU/Linux users, Ballmer told Microsoft's Asian Government Leaders Forum that Linux violates more than 228 patents. ... "Some day," he continued, "for all countries that are entering the WTO [World Trade Organization], somebody will come and look for money owing to the rights for that intellectual property."
  • 11/19 - Author repudiates Ballmer's use of his study, "Microsoft is up to its usual FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt]," said Dan Ravicher, author of the study Microsoft cites. "Open source faces no more, if not less, legal risk than proprietary software. The market needs to understand that the study Microsoft is citing actually proves the opposite of what they claim it does."
  • unknown - Long after the fact, Microsoft general counsel Smith revealed customer shakedowns. Since the GPL covered only distributors of Linux, nothing stopped Smith from seeking royalties directly from end users - many of which are Fortune 500 companies [and major Microsoft customers]. [he got deals with] "major brand-name companies" in financial services, health care, insurance and information technology. (He says they don't want to be identified, presumably because they fear angering the FOSS community.) [2]

2005 More of the same, tired FUD.

  • 7/10 - Ballmer FUDs Microsoft's Worldwide partners, Ballmer - again inaccurately - cited an Open Source Risk Management (OSRM) survey from last summer that highlighted the existence of 287 patents in the Linux kernel. "Rumor is Linux violates 286 patents." Microsoft sees the wider implementation of corporation-friendly IP law that is part of the entry ticket to the WTO as being a weapon that can be used against software rivals.

2006 Novell sells out for $400 million. FUDsters rejoice.

  • 3/26 - Steve Ballmer threatens all GNU/Linux in Forbes, there are experts who claim Linux violates our intellectual property. I'm not going to comment. But to the degree that that's the case, of course we owe it to our shareholders to have a strategy
  • 11/2 - the M$ Novell Patent deal.
  • 11/3 - Dan Lyons casts Novell deal as free software failure and claims the deal dooms both Novell and competitors like Red Hat. On Thursday night, I asked Jeff Jaffe, Novell's chief technology officer, if he could think of a company that had partnered with Microsoft and done really well as a result. ... His response: "I think this partnership is breaking new ground." ... the new ground they're breaking is probably Novell's gravesite. Red Hat grew, Novell shrank.
  • 11/3 - More FUD from Steve Ballmer, "If a customer says, Look, do we have liability for the use of your patented work? Essentially, If you're using non-SUSE Linux, then I'd say the answer is yes. They'll think twice about [about downloading GNU/Linux]. There are a lot of Linux distributors now [considering a Novell like deal]. All of the sudden you have got Oracle in the game; you've got Red Hat in the game." Red Hat never caved, nothing happened. Both Ballmer and Novell's Ron Hoverspan both stressed OOXML converters for Open Office, but they admit these translators would never work 100%. I don't think they have gotten 10% "interoperability" yet.
  • 11/12 - SAMBA team begs Novell to reconsider their M$ patent deal. Many are upset the FSF was not consulted, "The Samba Team disapproves strongly of the actions taken by Novell on November 2nd. One of the fundamental differences between the proprietary software world and the free software world is that the proprietary software world divides users by forcing them to agree to coercive licensing agreements which restrict their rights to share with each other, whereas the free software world encourages users to unite and share the benefits of the software. The patent agreement struck between Novell and Microsoft is a divisive agreement. ... Using patents as competitive tools in the free software world is not acceptable." - From the Samba team letter. FSF lawyer, , explains, "if [M$] succeeds in getting one distribution to pay royalties for the distribution of free software, other distributions will do so. ... That will then succeed in marching the commercial sector away from the non-commercial sector, and Microsoft then will be able to use its patents to sue to block the development of software in the non-commercial sector without the fear of suing its own customers, which is the force that now constrains them from misbehavior with their patent portfolio." It is a good thing that Red Hat and others did not take the bait and that GPL3 thwarted the deal.
  • 11/16 - Steve Ballmer explains Novell/M$ deal where M$ gave Novell $400 million, Microsoft signed the deal because Linux "uses our intellectual property" and it wanted to "get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation. Novell pays us some money for the right to tell customers that anybody who uses SUSE Linux is appropriately covered. This is important to us, because we believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance sheet liability. Only customers that use SUSE have paid properly for intellectual property from Microsoft."
  • 11/20 - Roger Levy, vice-president of open platform solutions at Novell, told a Paris press conference, "Customers were afraid they'd get sued if they crossed platforms and this meant that they were hesitating on buying decisions. As part of the deal Microsoft will agree not to sue our customers and we agreed not to sue their customers."
  • 11/27 - Dan Lyons reports the M$/Novell deal as failure of free software that dooms Novell and all other GNU/Linux vendors. the move is also tried-and-true Microsoft strategy: embrace, extend--and exterminate. It works like this: Partner with a weak, desperate player. ... Develop new features that help you but hurt others (in this case, Red Hat). Weaken everyone in the market, then move on. Yes, he said the same thing on 11/3.
  • 12/21 - SAMBA developer, Jeremy Allison,Resigns from Novell over M$ deal.

2007 - "Respecting IP" means paying M$ for things they don't own. Proxy attacks launched which prove that selling out to M$ provides no peace of mind at all.

  • 4/14 - Samsung caves to Microsoft extortion and pays for the use of free software. They will later pay fees for Android.
  • 5/7 - Dell Sells Out and promisses to promote SLED. Customers overwhelmingly object to the purchase of M$ SLED coupons. This will cost Dell sales and market share.
  • 5/14 - Another Forbes attack. The quotes are amazing but Forbes manages to outdo all of the M$ critters he interviews. "We live in a world where we honor, and support the honoring of, intellectual property," says Ballmer in an interview. FOSS patrons are going to have to "play by the same rules as the rest of the business," he insists. "What's fair is fair." Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez is quoted. Revealing the precise figure for the first time, they state that FOSS infringes on no fewer than 235 Microsoft patents. [Linux kernel 42, 65 GUI, Open Office 45, E-mail programs 15, 68 unspecified and no patent listed. It turns out these numbers came from a study, which concludes that free software infringes less than non free does and the author repudiates Ballmer's assertions, source.] ... "This is not a case of some accidental, unknowing infringement," Gutierrez asserts. "There is an overwhelming number of patents being infringed." To top things off, all GNU/Linux users are threatened again, would Microsoft sue its customers for royalties, the way the record industry has? "That's not a bridge we've crossed," says CEO Ballmer, "and not a bridge I want to cross today on the phone with you." [2, shilled by Ina Fried before Fortune published it, "Last modified: May 13, 2007"]
  • 5/17 - Bill Hilf, general manager of platform strategy, "So we have no plans to litigate. You can never say we'll never do anything in the future, but that's not our strategy. ... This isn't like a trivial invention. There are a couple hundred significant patents here."
  • 5/24 - M$ refuses to list patents violated for paperwork reasons and threatens Red Hat, Microsoft patents attorney Jim Markwith told OSBC, "The response of that would be administratively impossible to keep up with." ... Microsoft's director of platform strategy Sam Ramji [said], "As a company that puts $7bn a year into R&D, we have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders. We have no desire to litigate - we spend $100m a year defending ourselves against patent lawsuits. We continue to offer licensing agreements to distributors of specific pieces of software called out in the [Forbes] article. Red Hat is welcome to come to the table, as is any other distributor."
  • 6/4 - Brian Caulfield of Forbes covers the Xandros deal. Microsoft executives are hinting that trouble could be brewing--claiming last month that open-source products are violating 235 of the company's patents. ... Aside from having to endure getting flamed on a few geek-friendly message boards, however, it's hard to see a downside for the 80-employee Xandros. For one downside, read about the destruction of the Ausus EEPC and ponder what the projected $25 million worth of licensing would have done Xandros ($5 x 25 million units, a lowball price estimate).
  • 10/4 - Steve Ballmer says Red Hat users owe him money, "I think it's great the way Novell stepped up to kinda say intellectual property matters. When people use Red Hat [shrug], at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense, have an obligation to eventually to compensate us."
  • 10/21 - M$ proxy Acacia Research launches a patent lawsuit against Red Hat and Novel over a multi-monitor patent. According to Groklaw, this is the first patent lawsuit filed against gnu/linux. Three years later, Acacia loses. Acacia will file more.
  • 11/15 - Bill Hilf, general manager of platform strategy, "We would like to strike similar patent deals with all the Linux vendors, but we had to start somewhere."

2008 - lawsuits are good for business

2009 Unable to compete in mobile devices and mass storage, M$ launches their own lawsuits and more proxy attacks on free software. Biski ruling has ended the game but M$ and other patent holders pretends otherwise.

2010 Software Patent Armagedon and Meltdown. All sorts of Microsoft trolls launch attacks on Google's Android and everyone sues everyone, proving that arsenals of "defensive" patents were only good for ruining the industry.

2011 - Microsoft Launches More Direct and Proxy Lawsuits Against Free Software. Microsoft becomes more of a patent troll than a software company and other tech "Brands" continue down the path dictated by outsourcing of manufacture and design.

Loose ends and other resources.

After years of warning people, Roy Schestowitz and Boycott Novell can say, "I told you so".

A list of extorted companies.

7/2 - Xandros devoured by M$ [2].

8/9 - Linspire destroyed and sued anyway. more

- Corel destroyed by M$ but their Windows platform use gave M$ a much larger handle than patents.

- The constant litigation that reveals their actual respect for imaginary property and belies public statements about never litigating. They violate other people's patents at will and refuse to pay when they lose in court, but they are quick to make threats against free software, demand money from other companies and to use the courts to get it.

- New patent troll companies, such as Intellectual Ventures, being set up by M$ and M$ employees.

Groklaw's Microsoft Novell deal resource page

Boycott Novell's description of the Microsoft Novell deal

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ed Avis, a Sneaky Troll. 8

Ed is a subtle troll. He often says vague things in support of software freedom but what's below shows that he could care less. Often software freedom arguments are turned against M$ competitors like Google and Apple. This is paradoxical when he's busy supporting things like OOXML, Silverlight and so on. There's no mistaking his smart ass attitude and smug hatred of Slashdot users. With a little bit of digging, the general patern emerges, Love for M$, hate for Slashdot, other M$ enemies and a well hidden hatred of software freedom.

Love for M$

Hate for Slashdot and Other General Hate.

His homepage on 11/23/2008 has has him and other old people beating each other up in cheasy martial arts class. Thanks for sharing, Ed.

User Journal

Journal Journal: A Listing of Accepted Stories.

Here are some of the stories I submitted that Slashdot thought were worth sharing. I collected them to see how my interests and worries held up over the years.

2010

I put most of my effort into helping Techrights in 2010. I still read Slashdot but don't bother to submit news anymore. The policy of sharing email addresses was a turn off here at Slashdot. I'm keeping the following logs reasonably up to date:

Techrights has been more enjoyable and productive. The link sections are what Slashdot once was and Roy's investigative journalism is first rate reporting.

2009

2008 - There's a brief break here, where I did not realize that journal submission was broken and then due to system gaming.

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

1999

Microsoft

Journal Journal: Portrait of a Deluded M$ User and Share Holder. 1

The powerful hold M$ has over the minds and wallets of users was put on display at a November 19th shareholder meeting. Karen Robins, a children's book author, had these things to say:

"Twenty years ago, I started my dream to be a children's writer. Bill Gates and Microsoft totally changed my career. I just wanted to thank you. I love Microsoft. I believe in the company. It is my only individual stock still left in my portfolio. I'm still hanging on to Microsoft and the dream. I remember I sat in this very same room several years ago and I believe it was Mr. Steve Ballmer who said the best is yet to come. So, Mr. Ballmer, what year do you predict the best is yet to come?"

After the meeting, Robbins, said that Microsoft's products had made her life as a writer much easier. She no longer had to type letters to publishing houses individually. And she no longer had to retype the entirety of a letter when there was a mistake. "I wanted to always personally thank Bill Gates," she said.

[Despite the lost share value she concluded] "It was worth so much. Where else would I invest? I love the company. It changed my whole career."

This is the core sin of non free software that RMS warns about, that the user is so grateful for what the software does that they will do as the programmer says. These kinds of emotions should never guide investment decisions.

Microsoft

Journal Journal: M$ Debt Scam Moving Smootly as Cash Goes to Zero. 9

Unable to sell stock to raise money, M$ will sell bonds which will deplete the company of it's cash, in an attempt to raise it's declining stock value.

Microsoft Corp. may sell debt in what would be the world's largest software maker's inaugural bond offering. Microsoft may offer senior unsecured debt securities, according to a regulatory filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The shelf registration clears the way for the company to issue debt at any time.

The move comes amid suspicions of hidden weakness and demonstrated threats to it's cash cows Windows and Office. It is part of a previously announced plan to enter debt for $20 billion worth of stock buybacks. M$ had $20.7 in cash left as of September 30th, which was down from a high of $60 billion just a few years ago. At the time of announcement, USB analyst Heather Bellini predicted:

Microsoft to complete the repurchase -- at least five times larger than its average per quarter in the last fiscal year -- over the next three months. ``They won't announce it until it's done,'' Bellini said.

Despite this news, M$FT has hit a 52 week low of $18.00 today and continues to float there, down from peaks of $36 at the start of the year and $56 in 1999. Stock options were once an important mechanism to attract talent to the company.

Microsoft

Journal Journal: The Birth of the M$ Business Model, 1968.

If you ever wondered why Windows never just works, look at the start of Bill Gates computer career.

In the fall of 1968, Computer Center Corporation opened for business in Seattle [and offered computer time to Bill Gate's high school]. It was not long before [Gates and his comrades] started causing problems. They caused the system to crash several times and broke the computers security system. They even altered the files that recorded the amount of computer time they were using. ... the Computer Center Corporation decided to hire the students to find bugs and expose weaknesses in the computer system. In return for the Lakeside Programming Group's help, the Computer Center Corporation would give them unlimited computer time ...

The pattern is apparent, break the system and forever be paid to fix it.

This reaction to computing scarcity should be contrasted with Richard Stallman's. As a graduate student, he railled against locking unused terminals so that everyone could have access to otherwise wasted resources. Decades later we still see M$ abusing its position of trust and Stallman still trying to help his neighbors.

Microsoft

Journal Journal: A M$ Investor Vents His Rage at M$. 1

A 100,000 M$FT share holder details his frustrations at M$'s incompetent management.

In these last eight years, I have witnessed an appalling decline in shareholder value of this extraordinary business enterprise. My personal shareholder value has been steadily destroyed both in actual and potential value. It is not unreasonable to expect Microsoft, the world's software leader, enjoying a high-margin monopoly on more than 90 percent of the world's computers, to have annual stock appreciation of 9 percent over this span of eight years. At this compounded rate, MSFT should now be selling at twice the price I originally paid. Instead, it is selling at half the price I paid. The current economic meltdown hasn't materially altered the underlying, long-term price trend of MSFT shares. ... five out of seven of the non-employee directors up for re-election have minimal share ownership (stakes less than mine), and they are impotent as a counterbalance to the two out-of-touch titans.

In this same time frame, my Berkshire-Hathaway shares have tripled. ... Apple, meanwhile has experienced a nine-fold growth in share value during this period. ...

[M$] should not be in the hardware business selling low-margin, low-volume games and devices such as Xbox. ... has no proven skills in the business of advertising, either as a marketer of its own products and services or as an advertising service provider in the Google space. ... How many billions of dollars have been wasted on poor acquisitions? How many billions has Microsoft squandered on losing legal battles (as well as on Pyrrhic victories) that have severely damaged the brand's reputation and credibility around the world? Where are the tangible results of the billions spent on R&D? Where is the accountability for the lateness of the Windows Vista operating system and its poor design and performance?

I am sorry for this man's personal loss and wish that he had listened to free software advocates instead of greed heads. By 2000, there were enough anti-trust lawsuits to convince any reasonable person that M$ was a criminal organization that would abuse all stake holders the same way it abused customers and employees. Non free software is morally bankrupt and those who vend it should not be trusted.

The investor finishes his rant with a proposal to change management, fire Steve and get Gates out of the picture. This, of course, will fail because it treats the symptoms not the cause. M$'s core products, Office and Windows are also failing and no dancing elephant can prevent the rise of free software. M$ has stomped off into low margin businesses like Zune and Xbox because they can't afford to see free software prove itself anywhere without losing their entire monopoly. M$ lost control of developer conversation long ago, the cool new toys and mindshare follow that and market share follows what developers make.

Microsoft

Journal Journal: Infoworld and the M$ Blacklist. 1

Randall Kennedy, of InfoWorld, has documented an ugly incident where M$ expressed their dissatisfaction with his writing. There are lots of stories about how M$ manipulates the press and punishes people that do not praise the company but this one is worth mentioning because it shows the danger of using M$ Exchange. People should also remember W.E.'s place in the world

Oct. 3, 2008 - I receive an e-mail from Julie McCormick at Waggener Edstrom in which she extends a "special save-the-date" invitation to attend a "unique, invitation-only" event being hosted by the Windows Client team. She labels the subject matter as "confidential" and notes that attendees will be hosted at a special "socializing event" on Saturday night as compensation for flying in a day early. [Kennedy accepts and arranges a flight]

Oct. 8, 2008 - I receive a mysterious "recall" notice in my Outlook Inbox from this same Julie McCormick. Apparently, she's trying to "unsend" the aforementioned invitation e-mail. Fortunately, I don't use Exchange Server (makes it harder for my sources to recant when they get cold feet), so this rather clumsy attempt at "evidence elimination" fails miserably.

October 9 .... it appears that someone high up on the Client Team (Steve?) really doesn't like me. I mean, really, truly loathes me. And it's not just your run-of-the-mill frustration with a journalist who picks on them. This thing is personal, and the executive in question is allowing his or her personal feelings to spill over into the company's handling of formal press relations with InfoWorld.

... The "official" explanation for my blacklisting and subsequent "dis-invitation" is that I somehow "violated the non-disclosure agreement" for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Beta by publishing benchmark results before the update was released. Of course, this argument is entirely specious because a) I haven't signed any NDA with Microsoft in the past decade and b) I've never published any benchmark results for Vista - at least none that originated with me. Furthermore, if there really was some sort of NDA violation in play, it wouldn't be Waggener-Edstrom relaying the message. It would be Microsoft Legal ... in the form of a lawsuit.

I heard that they even considered banning me from PDC outright, so toxic is my presence. However, cooler heads eventually prevailed

The same author later found out that part of the special meeting was a laptop bribe.

Dear Microsoft: I'm writing in regard to your recent FREE LAPTOP COMPUTER giveaway program for members of the industry media/analyst community. It is my understanding that authors and pundits who are "friends" of Microsoft - i.e. those who praise Windows Vista and generally write positive stories about your products and strategies - were eligible to receive their FREE LAPTOP COMPUTER during the super-secret, invite-only workshop that you held on the Sunday just prior to your Professional Developers Conference.

This was later covered by Boycott Novell, which attempted to finger those who took the laptops.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Little else matters than to write good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer

Working...