open source

Microsoft take-down requests – needs its own house in order first?

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By now its common knowledge that Google has released publically, figures on the takedown requests it has recieved from copyright holders and their affiliates.  Microsoft figured heavily in this release which is what I wish to look at a little closer and maybe offer some alternative reasoning to the requests themselves.

Firstly, this article is not about the rights or wrongs of IP.  Regardless of your views on file-sharing and copyrighted material/law, I ask those be put to one side for the moment.

I think the one thing we can all agree on is that there are alot of searches (possibly through Google) whereby users are looking for “warez”.   Lets consider something else (again in the ethos of common ground) – as the current law stands, it is perfectly reasonable for Microsoft to make a take-down request of Google, like the idea of copyright or not, currently there is nothing to stop Microsoft (or indeed anyone else) requesting that material/link or whatever gets removed.  Now here though is where further consideration asks some questions which don’t seem to make sense.

Lets say Microsoft is concerned about copyright infringement and file-sharing – whilst they can (as stated above) make requests of Google, one would expect then that they would have cleaned up their own house first (or at least at the same time) – let me explain.  Try a Bing search for MS office on PirateBay – you get a direct link.  If Microsoft is so concerned about its IP then surely its own product should be a top priority to purge of such links?  But then if you consider it further, possibly not.

If we are agreed that Bing would like a slice of the pie that Google has in terms of search numbers and we agree that there are a considerable number of people using Google to search for “warez” – would it be suspicious minded to think that if Microsoft can make numerous takedown requests of Google, whilst keeping Bing “intact”, those that search for warez will be more likely to move over to Bing and thus bring value in terms of usage to Bing?  Whilst that may simply be a creative idea in respect of the recent news, it strikes me as strange that after all those take-down requests of Google, that Microsoft hasn’t even done something so simple as remove all PirateBay entries from its own product.

Maybe there’s someone who can explain why Microsoft hasn’t even seemed to take the most simple steps in keeping its own house in order whilst it is busy tackling Google?  Or maybe someone could say what it actually is that Microsoft is asking Google to take-down?

Personally, I think Microsoft products are moody enough without using a “cracked” version.  I remember the misery of being a Windows user with all the malicious code out there (and I was using a genuine version).  To use Microsoft products and trust in the integrity of a “cracked” version, is akin to putting your wedding tackle into a lions mouth and flicking its love-spuds with a wet towel (Credit for quote: Arnold Rimmer, Red Dwarf)

Do as I say, not as I do!

Some Microsoft Advocates often refer to Linux/FOSS users with the derogatory term “freetard” and even if we look past at the apparent double standards Bing employs in comparison with requests made of Google and we ignore the millions of Windows users using the uTorrent client and downloading copyrighted material, we need only look to Microsoft themselves and a very interesting article by torrent freak, who, after researching a few Microsoft IP addresses, find that records show, their machines have been very busy downloading copyrighted material for free too.  Hypocricy? Would we expect anything less from a company that employs a man someone like Steve Ballmer?

In relation to piracy, it’s alleged by TorrentFreak:

Look up a range of IP-addresses assigned to Microsoft and enter those into the search form on YouHaveDownloaded one by one. While we expected that it might take a while to find one, we already had a handful of offenders after two dozen tries.


Priceless, but hardly surprising.  And in light of “warez” seemingly ok if they are linked in Bing results, should we have expected anything less from Microsoft? – I’ll let you decide.

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on

Stating the obvious – Microsoft and open $ource

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A rather short post today relating to an article which explores Microsoft’s relationship with open source and its future direction.  A rather interesting (if somewhat already known) piece which states:

You know why I know Microsoft has no leadership and vision when it comes to Open-Source? Because I asked Steve Ballmer when he was in London, and he replied with this: “I don’t know, but we won’t impose any view on our divisions. I’ll come back to you by email though.”


Which then goes on to say:

Microsoft has no vision when it comes to Open-Source, no strategy and no leadership….

And this comes as a surprise or something new? Isn’t the Microsoft business model completely incompatible with the ideals and ethos of real open source software?

Its a good article though which I would recommend you read, in the meantime, taking a more generic look at Microsoft, here is a comment from a Cnet reader which I think sums up Microsoft very nicely and maybe hints on its perception with the mainstream consumer:

…Let’s face facts, Microsoft has gotten it’s hand into everything. Once there, they consistently become the 900lb gorilla in the room with a bad attitude that kills competition and is bad for consumers….


I’ll leave it there.

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on

UK Government going ahead with Open Source

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Intellect 2012 Open source and open standards are the direction for UK government IT, the civil servant leading the government’s technology change agenda has said.


Has the penny finally dropped for government that Open Source is viable and the future for UK government IT?

More often than not, the UK governments grasp on technology/software is rather vague to say the least.   We need look no further than BBClick to see the level in which these people comprehend (I’ve always thought the ignorance of Click mirrored the government perfectly – trying to be trendy, missing out the obvious whilst pandering to the monopolist)

It comes then as a pleasant surprise that in recent times Government latched onto words such as “open source” and now we see news of how its to manifest itself within the spending plans of those who handle our taxes.

Liam Maxwell, Cabinet Office director of ICT futures, said:

Opensource software is not three guys in a shed anymore. There are a lot of misconceptions about open source but open source is the future model for delivering IT.


To which I would add that those “misconceptions” are still on the lips of many Microsoft MVP’s and advocates, most notably on forums and maybe the best example of these “misconceptions” given form are in comp.os.linux.advocacy (link leads to Google Groups if you have no Usenet access) where you have had Microsoft advocates posting for years that open source (and obviously Linux) are things for the hobbyist, created in the basements of unshaven single men – Doubt that? Get yourself over to the news groups and see Linux advocates get attacked personally by those who have spent more than 10 years posting vulgarity in a newsgroup about Linux and open source advocacy.

I would actually go further than Mr Maxwell and state these “misconceptions” are generally not misconceptions at all, they are downright lies by people who have much to lose if their customer base discovers the benefits of Open Source and withdraws their money from the traditional cash cows that they have made a living off for years.

That’s where the future is moving. It’s moving to  a new model of service and delivery, it’s big data and big data is going to be open source. We are going to spend a lot of time looking into that. If we move to being one common government we need open source…

Encouraging news for the end-user/consumer.  Not so for those still trying to sell proprietary which already clearly has a FOSS alternative.  I strongly suggest you read the entire linked article to find out exactly what form open source is to be taking.

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on

Microsoft has lost out again? – Kinect now freed from the 360?

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Recently a company called Adafruit made a challenge to coders worldwide to write open source drivers for the Microsoft Kinect technology.  They even offered $2000 reward for the person who could do it.  As you would expect, Microsoft wasn’t too happy and released a few statements regarding the issue:

…work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant


In my view in further proof of Microsoft not only loosing its grip in many area’s of IT (since it appears Microsoft’s best efforts to secure the Kinect have failed), its also lost its “teeth” and the toothless tigers comments did little to worry Adafruit when they came back with:

Don’t make us up it to $3k

Now it seems (if claims are correct) that already someone has stepped up and freed the Kinect from the 360.  Engadget reports:

We tracked down the son-of-a-gun who did it — as it happens, the same NUI Group member who hacked the PlayStation Eye in 2008 — and found to our disappointment that he doesn’t necessarily intend to unleash his new exploit on the world. The $2,000 prize Adafruit is presently offering for open-source Kinect drivers isn’t his aim, though he does have big personal plans for the device….


The story is also covered at the Register:

So the question is why would anyone really want the Kinect technology on their PC (or other device) in the first place?   I think its safe to say that Microsoft certainly doesn’t want you doing this, maybe because the Kinect is being sold at a loss and they rely on you purchasing 360 games for it to make up the shortfall? – I’ll let you decide.

I also find it very interesting how Microsoft say:

work closely with law enforcement

as if to suggest that writing an open source driver for a product you have bought would be of interest to the police.  Let me make something very clear.  If you purchased one of these Microsoft contraptions and if you decided to write a driver which enabled you to plug the aforementioned device into your PC – You commit no criminal offense what so ever.  The funny thing is, (certainly in the UK) even if there was criminal legislation to accommodate these actions, I doubt you would find many law enforcement officers who actually know what the Kinect was anyway.

For those of you buying a Kinect – thank you. I think you will be the guinea pigs and we will be reading about issues you have with the device in the coming months.  I look forward to talking about them.

So the final question is, how long does Microsoft intend to stick with the 360? I’d suggest that the main purpose of Kinect is to try and drag out the life of the 360 for as long as possible, after all the RROD issue did not assist profits from the system.

And we end on a lighter note, just to show the 360 did aid innovation and creativity:

Goblin – /

You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

TechBytes Audiocast – Episode 2 – 07/11/10

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Despite not having a guest this week we had quite a bit to talk about.  In this show we looked at Silverlight and an apparent fall from Microsoft grace.

I talk about David Cameron’s comments on Copyright law / IP /Innovation and worry that instead of looking to others for example (in this case America) we should consider these issues in respect of ourselves only and what is suitable for the UK.

We look at the new Silicon Valley located (possibly) in Shoreditch and I question the massive investment in a project when really the internet is making physical location irrelevant (in regards to innovation).  Does innovation only happen when we pack everyone together between concrete walls? – I don’t think so and what claim to fame does Shoreditch have other than cabinet making?  Listen to the show and find out!

We look at Ubuntu and its Unity & Wayland announcements.

Diasopora is mentioned, an impressive looking title which will hopefully get a release soon, enjoy 3d space shooters? Like Battle Star Galactica? You are going to love this:

Ubuntu is mentioned again in respect of some encouraging news that more women are getting involved.  We look at how the silly stereotypes are now removed and invite any female listeners to contact us to be a guest on the show.

We consider the Kinect and reports from people who have used the tech.  I also note that if people are considering  this type of product, it was the Playstation’s Move that won an award at the GamesCon 2010 beating its rival Kinect.   We also look at an article written over on about issues with Kinect.

Finally we look at some feedback and Roy makes some comments about last week show, including a rather encouraging first show download figure.

The music used for the TechBytes Audiocast is by kind permission of Tom Smith.  You can see his excellent work over here.

As always your feedback is both welcomed and appreciated.

You can download the ogg version here.

and the mp3 version here.

Whilst Roy and myself produce the TechBytes show together, we write our own show notes.  You can find Roy’s here:

Goblin – /

You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Bing on Android – Microsoft rides the coat tails of Android again?

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We start this article reminding ourselves of some comments Steve Ballmer has made in regards to Android.  You may have heard about Android, its a rather popular mobile platform which Microsoft is thinking it is going to be able to compete with when the old new Windows Mobile 7 is released shortly. ;)

just some words on paper right now……right now they have a press release — we have many, many millions of customers…

Steve Ballmer talking about Android in 2007.  Source:

Short sighted?  Well Mr Ballmer continued his comments on Android in the coming years:

…I don’t really understand their strategy. Maybe somebody else does. If I went to my shareholder meeting, my analyst meeting, and said, ‘hey, we’ve just launched a new product that has no revenue model!’…I’m not sure that my investors would take that very well. But that’s kind of what Google’s telling their investors about Android….Google doesn’t exactly bubble to the top of the list of the top competitors we’ve got going in mobile. They might someday…..

Steve Ballmer 2008 talking about Android.  Source:

Lack of insight by Microsoft or merely the Microsoft arrogance that we have come to expect from the company that wants you using everything of its own?  Of course, its obvious what consumers want and with the massive apps library on both Apple and Android platforms that trend won’t change anytime soon, regardless if Windows Mobile 7 doesn’t turn out to be a repeat of previous Winmob experiences or even worse…Kin.

It comes as no surprise to me when we learn that Bing now has an Android app.  Microsoft really wants you using its search decision engine and if that means putting it on an massively popular Android platform (which they are starting to make money from via “deals” with HTC et al) then so be it.

Ive gone on record previously to say that Windows Mobile will flop (in the sense of a mainstream platform).  I think it will flop like the Kin, although I’d expect its death throws to linger a little longer.  It does not take an expert to look at the market/demand and what consumers are talking about.

Microsoft has apparently been “innovating” again with voice recognition and the Android client:

The company’s baked a good amount of voice search into the app


Although I wonder if anyone has mentioned we have been very happy with Google Voice for some time…..oh well, back to the patent portfolio for you Microsoft….

Microsoft and mobile? I think your chance has long since passed.  Trying to get Bing accepted on Android is one thing,  the recent “deals” with HTC are, I believe summed up very nicely here:

…an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace.


Goblin –

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

REVIEW: Peppermint – Cloud/Lightweight distro & Considering the cloud?

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Part Ubuntu, part cloud, all Distro! Can users be tempted into breaking the ice, with a partial cloud desktop?

Linux and its diverse range of distributions are developing at a very fast pace.  Nearly every day on Distrowatch I see something new and whilst I would like to take a look at everything, the popularity and demand for Linux distro’s means that I do not have the time to review everything.   In today’s Linux world it takes something a little unique or new to get me to look at a new release (or it has to be one of the titles I champion regularly).

Peppermint Linux and its coming to pass is something akin to Puppy Arcade 8 (which we covered recently).  Like Puppy Arcade is derived from Turbo Pup (which in turn came from Puppy Linux) Peppermint is derived from Mint which in turn comes from Ubuntu.

For me when the name Ubuntu is mentioned I usually get a feeling of “out of the box”.  Speaking personally I have had only few, very minor issues when installing an Ubuntu distro and of all thats available in the Linux world, in my opinion its the simplest most “out of the box” there is.  So Peppermint building upon those solid foundations is a recipe for success? Read on and find out!

The first thing that drew me to Peppermint was the fact that it depends in part (but not completely) on the Cloud.  I think we are still some way off users wanting a total desktop cloud experience but as we head towards what will probably be inevitable, this is certainly a good way of breaking the ice.

Peppermint’s choice of Ubuntu foundations are a great choice ,  for those who are taking their first steps into the world of Linux and seasoned Linux veterans alike.

OS in the cloud or head in the cloud?

It’s funny how my view of cloud computing and indeed “always on” has changed over the years.  During the early internet days, the thought of always being connected frightened me slightly with visions of a vulnerable PC on the world-wide web for people to drop in on whenever they wished.  I remember only staying online for as long as I needed then logging out and continuing with my computing offline.  How things have changed….

Now (and I hope some people can relate to this) if, for whatever reason, my net connection is down, my computing experience feels rather lonely, rather isolated and not very pleasant.  I like my social media products to hand, I like my email to pop up and sometimes my Waves at my fingertips, often, if the net is down, my computer is off.   I have read Mr Stallman’s views on the cloud and I do appreciate some of his concerns, however time will tell if a migration does happen and history will record if those concerns come to pass in respect of computing in the cloud.  I will be running another article shortly looking at the question of cloud computing.

I think though when/if the time comes for a complete cloud migration, I’ll be more than ready to jump into the brave new world and (hopefully) 10 years on look back at this time and think how isolated/ narrow-minded I was.  Either that or I will be held to ransom by the firms that provide me with my cloud experience and look after my data and look back with regret!

My diversion about the cloud has taken this review completely off track, so lets now return to Peppermint.

Looking at Peppermint

Peppermint is a tight distro using kernel 2.6.32 which whilst being light in the area of defaultly packaged software, balances that with cloud based offerings.  Coming in at a 446mb download, within a few minutes the shiny new ISO was ready to burn.  I don’t need to explain how simple and straightforward the installation process is, all I have to say is, Ubuntu simple.

Seeemic integrates very well into the Peppermint desktop.

Offering Google Docs in the taskbar menu, opens your Google Docs in a light window client (via Prism)  as if it was a locally installed package.  This seemless integration of online services is consistent with all the cloud packages incorporated into the Peppermint desktop.  Under your “Office” menu you also have Google Calender, Google Mail, Google Reader and ePDFViewer.  It should be noted that you do have a local text editor, if you are wanting to create a simple file locally and of course you’ve got a wealth of more traditional alternatives to install locally through the Software Manager.

Default packages

Whilst this distro does lend heavily towards the cloud, it still does have a nice selection of default packaged software.Python 2.6.5, Leafpad 0.8.17, Gnome-mplayer and many more.  Its all pretty academic though with the software manager, you have a huge selection of software to download after install.  Firefox 3.6.3 is packaged as default though for me this was an instant removal.  I am an advocate of Chromium which for me has been a wonderful experience in the main since the very earliest builds.


Yes, this is a speedy distro!  Boot up times are exceptionally fast as is shutdown and even with numerous tasks running on one of the many desktop’s around the house, my now prehistoric 1.8ghz processor never went above 22% on CPU usage.    I took out ram to see how well Peppermint ran on half a gig, which is probably more relevant to those who intend this to be deployed on a low spec netbook or laptop and I can report that barring a little extra disk activity from time to time (as to be expected) the whole operation was still very fast with a reasonable amount of facilities being run at a price of only half my available ram.


Since Peppermint doesn’t come with any “play once” games and many of its apps are cloud based, the small 446mb file will be a very quick download for many.

I was very impressed with the cohesiveness between the cloud based apps and the locally installed ones.  Ive used web dependent distro’s before, but never within a traditional desktop environment and previous reviews have been of “Web kiosk” type distro’s.

If I wanted to be really fussy I would mention that upon default install the browser shortcut is located very close to the “menu” button, which means from time to time you will miss and bring up another instance of your browser when what you really wanted to do was access the menu.  This is a minor issue though and Im sure most people customize a distro to their own tastes after install anyway.

Whether you want a cloud experience or not, this distro is an excellent lightweight option for daily use, the cloud features whilst well-integrated are not “set in stone” and there’s nothing wrong with you replacing them with more traditional solutions.

I think Peppermint Linux serves two purposes, one its a great lightweight distro that will sit very nicely on any machine old or new, but also its a nice introduction to cloud computing which doesn’t “throw all your eggs into one basket”.  For me personally it has eleviated some of the fears/myths about computing in the cloud and Im happy to say that Peppermint has a permanent home on one of my rigs now.

A strongly recommended distro which not only gives a solid desktop experience that is capable of handling any task you throw at it, but also introduces you to cloud computing in a very non-committal way.

Just like many of the distro’s I feature here, I encourage you to support this project, the hard work and professionalism this distro displays for me means its one I will be following with great interest in the future and as far as Ubuntu derived distro’s go, this is up there with the best of them.

I have been contacted by the devs behind Peppermint and have the pleasure of saying that a Q&A session will follow in a future article.

The Distrowatch entry for Peppermint can be found here:

You can visit the Peppermint home page here:

Goblin –

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.