Category: Software

Thunderstorm hits Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware

live_tv_windows_10Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware is making a public idiot of the company and rendering the software customers have paid for unfit for the purpose.

The latest public humiliation of the company happened during a live TV weather forecast. Instead of the weather map that the television station KCCI wanted, the screen was full of a demand that meteorologist Metinka Slater upgrade to Windows 10 immediately.

Slater was busy trying to warn the good and the bad citizens of Iowa about thunderstorms rolling through Iowa, which was a little more important than a software upgrade.

“Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10. Gosh, what should I do?” Slater asked the viewing public.  Upgrading to Linux instead perhaps? Certainly a TV company can’t risk being seen as being that unprofessional ever again.

Microsoft is increasingly alienating people from its Windows 10 operating system with these sorts of antics. Forced upgrades of any sort are a pain.  We know this because even after you upgrade to Windows you are forced to upgrade on demand even when you do not have enough disk space.  Windows 10 wants to upgrade itself every morning and fills up our hard drive and then insists that it needs 5GB to install itself which the SSD slave drive does not have.

Frankly we hope that the TV Company sues Microsoft, because there does not seem to be any way to make the company understand that nagware on legitimate paid for software is just wrong.

Apple Macs stuffed-up by old Git

oldguyAnother bombshell has dropped on the Fruity Cargo Cult Apple’s poor security in its expensive Macs.

Jobs’ Mob’s software genii have apparently not bothered to upgrade the version of Git which comes bundled with OS X versions.

Git allows developers to manage source code repositories, keeping track of code changes from version to version. But the version in El Capitan is so old it exposes users to two possible attacks.

Security expert Rachel Kroll discovered that El Capitan comes bundled with Git 2.6.4. and the vulnerablities were found in  all Git versions before 2.7.3.

The two vulnerabilities are heap-based buffer overflows, allow attackers to execute malicious code on the machine. The attacker can use the malicious code hidden in the repo to launch an attack on the Mac, compromise the system, and take control of the user’s device and all the Mac user’s Coldplay collection and pictures of their mum and cats will be vulnerable.

There is no way to fix it either. The bundled Git version can’t be updated without breaking Git support.

Writing in her bog Kroll wrote: “If you rely on machines like this, I am truly sorry. I feel for you. I wrote this post in an attempt to goad them [Apple] into action because this is affecting lots of people who are important to me. They are basically screwed until Apple deigns to deliver a patched git unto them.”

Oracle and Google refuse to settle

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884Oracle’s moves to ask silly money from Google for the Java APIs in Andriod will see another long court case as the database maker has refused to cut a deal.

The pair have said that they have failed to settle a long running copyright lawsuit over the Android operating system ahead of a retrial scheduled for May.

The case involves how much copyright protection should extend to the Java programming language, which Google used to design Android. Oracle is seeking billions in royalties for Google’s use of some of the Java language, while Google said that it should be allowed to use Java without paying a fee.

At a trial in San Francisco federal court in 2012, the jury was deadlocked on Google’s fair use defence. Both companies participated in a court-ordered settlement conference on Friday before a US magistrate in San Jose, California, in an attempt to stave off retrial next month.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and Oracle CEO Safra Catz both attended, but talks were unsuccessful, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal wrote in a brief statement.

“After an earlier run at settling this case failed, the court observed that some cases just need to be tried. This case apparently needs to be tried twice.”


All roads lead to Chrome

firefox-on-chromeThe big cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation appear to think that the rival Chrome is the future.

Senior VP Mark Mayo has announced that the Firefox team is working on a next-generation browser that will run on the same technology as Google’s Chrome browser.

Writing in his bog, he said that his team were working on browser prototypes that look and feel almost nothing like the current Firefox.

“The premise for these experiments couldn’t be simpler: what we need a browser to do for us – both on PCs and mobile devices – has changed a lot since Firefox 1.0, and we’re long overdue for some fresh approaches.”

Dubbed Tofino, the project will not use Firefox’s core Gecko technology in favour of Electron, which is built on the technology behind Google’s rival Chrome browser, called Chromium.

Since he posted his blog Mozzarella Foundation has blocked the project for a year. Possibly because punters were mortified that Google’s Chrome could end up powering Firefox.

Mayo said that he should have been clearer that Project Tofino is wholly focused on UX explorations and not the technology platform. We said that he was working with the Platform team on technology platform futures too, and was excited about the Gecko and Servo-based futures being discussed.

However it seems that Electron might not be going away.  Mozilla has announced a new project called Positron which takes the Electron API and “wrap it around Gecko.”  The idea is that it takes the guts out of Chromium and gives it to Gecko, of course this is not the same thing at all.


Linus has not given up on desktops

torvaldsnvidia-640x424The colourful Linux creator Linus Torvalds has not given up on replacing Windows on the desktop with his sort of stuff.

Speaking from his bed at the Embedded Linux Conference, Torvalds said that Linux had not been a failure on the desktop.

“The desktop hasn’t really taken over the world like Linux has in many other areas, but just looking at my own use, my desktop looks so much better than I ever could have imagined,” he told the throngs.

Despite the fact that he is known for sometimes not being very polite to some of the desktop UI people, he said he was happy with the Linux desktop.

“To me, it’s not a failure. I would obviously love for Linux to take over that world too, but it turns out it’s a really hard area to enter. I’m still working on it. It’s been 25 years. I can do this for another 25. I’ll wear them down,” Torvalds said.

Google might replace Java with Swift

taylor-swift-is-the-apple-of-musicGoogle’s long running legal row with Oracle over its Java operating system could force it to replace it with Apple’s open source Swift.

Apple made Swift open source last year and apparently Google, Facebook and Uber are interested in making it a “first class” language for Android.

Although the idea is that Swift will not replace Java, at least at first, it seems that Google has had a gutsful of Oracle’s attempts to screw money out of the search engine outfit.

Swift was created as a replacement for Objective C, and is pretty easy to code. It was introduced at WWDC 2014, and has major support from IBM as well as a variety of major apps like Lyft, Pixelmator and Vimeo that have all rebuilt iOS apps with Swift.

However it would be a bit of a mess at first. Google would also have to make its entire standard library Swift-ready, and support the language in APIs and SDKs. Some low-level Android APIs are C++, which Swift cannot bridge to.  Higher level Java APIs would have to be re-written.

SCO attempts resurrection of failed court case

resurrectionWe thought it was dead, but it turns out that the anti-Linux badboy SCO is going to have another appeal.

For those who came in very very late SCO tried to claim that Linux used its Unix code and started issuing writs against those using the open saucy software in their systems. However it found itself involved in a long running battle against IBM. As a result, SCO’s Unix business collapsed, the outfit went bankrupt, but a court case continued for 13 years.

We thought it was over at the beginning of the year, but now it seems that SCO is having another crack at IBM and has appealed. Last we heard SCO’s arguments claiming intellectual property ownership over parts of Unix had been rejected by a US district court. That judgment noted that SCO had minimal resources to defend counter-claims filed by IBM due to SCO’s bankruptcy.

At the beginning of the month that filing was backed up by the judge’s full explanation, declaring IBM the emphatic victor in the long-running saga.

SCO has filed yet again to appeal that judgment, although the precise grounds it is claiming it are unknown.

How is managing to lurch along like a zombie who always manages to shot in the head?  The outfit is being represented by Boise, Schiller & Flexner, which successfully represented the US government against Microsoft in the antitrust case in the late 1990s. However SCO is bankrupt so how it can come up with the readies is impossible to say.

IBM has fought SCO tooth and claw every stretch of the way and pretty successfully. Our guess is that it will try to get the case thrown out quickly.

Microsoft not making adblocker for Edge

adblockSoftware giant Microsoft is not going to create an adblocker for its Edge browser.

Word leaked out that Vole was creating an adblocker when a slide tipped up and was duly posted on the world wide wibble. Such a move might anger Microsoft’s chums in the content industry who have been fighting in courts to get such software declared illegal.

Microsoft claims the slide is misleading, saying that it was simply referencing the fact the company is building extension support into Edge. In other words, ad blocking is still coming, but it will work exactly like in any other desktop browser – someone else will make an adblocker.

Edge has basically been crippled by the fact that the software cannot run extensions, which it was supposed to do by the end of 2015. Two weeks ago, Microsoft released a new Windows 10 preview build with Edge extension support, arguably the most important feature missing from the new browser. The company only released three extensions to testers – Mouse Gestures, Microsoft Translator, and Reddit Engagement Suite.

It is believed that the extensions will arrive in the next version of the software.


German courts back Adblock plus against publishers

history-of-print-16th-century-printing-companyCourts around Germany are starting to reject publishers’ demands and are finding in favour of Adblock.

A German regional court has ruled that it is perfectly legal to use AdBlock plus because there is no contract between the reader and the publisher.

This suit, brought by the company behind the leading German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, is the fifth such case to be decided in favour of the German software makers.

A Munich court also ruled that the “Acceptable Ads initiative,” a scheme that requires larger companies to pay for their ads to be whitelisted by Adblock Plus, is acceptable under German law.

Writing in his bog, Adblock Plus’s Ben Williams said that without a contract between publishers and visitors to view all the ads a publisher serves there users have the right to block those or any ads.

“Additionally, the judge ruled that by offering publishers a way to serve ads that ad-blocking users will accept, the Acceptable Ad initiative provides them an avenue to monetise their content, and therefore is favourable, not disadvantageous, to them.”

The court went a bit further and told off the company behind Süddeutsche Zeitung saying that “the law does not exist to save or uphold publishers’ business models. Rather, according to the ruling, it is up to them to innovate.

Last September German publishing giant Axel Springer told the court that it was “the constitutional right of the press to advertise,” and that the Adblock Plus software was infringing on that right.

The court in Cologne was not impressed and ruled that both the adblocking software and the Acceptable Ads whitelist were legal.


Oracle lawyers demand funny money from Google

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884Oracle’s legal team does not appear to have learnt anything from its more or less failed attempt to get Google to pay up for their use of Java applets in Android and are demanding funny money from the search outfit.

Oracle said it wants $9.3 billion in damages in a long-running copyright lawsuit against Google over its use of Java in Android.

But Oracle sued Google six years ago, claiming the search giant needs a licence to use parts of the Java platform in Google’s market-leading mobile OS. The companies went to trial over the matter in 2012 but the jury was split on the crucial question of whether Google’s use of Java was protected by “fair use,” which permits copying under limited circumstances.

Now the federal district court in San Francisco for a new trial due to begin May 9. As last time, a parade of star witnesses is expected to take the stand, including Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Google’s Eric Schmidt.

The $9.3 billion figure is 10 times the sum Oracle was seeking when the case went to trial last time and is because Android is so successful. The new trial will cover six additional versions of Android, up to and including Lollipop. Even to Google this is not chump change. Google thinks that even it lost it should not pay more than $100 million.

In the first trial, a jury found Google had infringed Oracle’s copyright by copying into Android the “structure, sequence and organization” of 37 Java application programming interfaces.

The trial judge, William Alsup, ruled later that APIs aren’t eligible for protection under US copyright law, dealing Oracle’s case a seemingly fatal blow. An appeals court overturned that ruling, however. Google appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined to take the case. So it now heads back to Alsup’s court to retry the issue of fair use.

Google has already blasted Oracle’s costings and asked Alsup to exclude parts of it from trial, saying it “ignores the statutory standard for copyright damages and fails to offer anything resembling an expert analysis.”

Copyright law says damages can only be claimed for profits that are “attributable to” the infringing code. And the 37 APIs are “a fraction of a percent of the code in the complex Android smartphone platform,” Google’s lawyers argued.