While they folded under public pressure to table SOPA and ProtectIP, most of Congress and the Obama administration are on board with the ACTA treaty. Currently being negotiated, this radioactive attack on the free and open Internet also puts individual liberty, the right to due process and the very existence any sovereign nation in the crosshairs.
Even if the president goes rogue and signs (which is likely). ACTA cannot be legally enacted without ratification by the Senate and passing constitutional muster in the courts. Neither the Senate or the courts will act in our interest without a public outcry. The war has just begun, and our freedom is at stake. Please write your representatives.
First a quick summary. Microsoft is considering using signed UEFI. They’re argument is that signing provides better security from root kit malware. That is agreed. The problem is once in place it locks out any other OS from installation. The court would then be in the likes of Dell, HP and Lenovo to provide them. Will they? This could be a threat to Linux. A longer summary is here.
The real problem as the article mentions is that this is not Microsoft’s problem. Its the MFR’s. We are just helping them out by providing keys. Well yes, but couple that with their near monopoly on the desktop space and it becomes a deadly combination for other OS’s.
But there is a factor that few have considered. Salvage value. In the corporate space this is a salient factor in product selection. For the corporate space the average cost of a PC is about $400-500 per seat sans embedded labor costs. Corps refresh about every 4-5 years. CFO/CIO types consider that at the end of that life the PC has a 10% salvage value on sale to the secondary resale market. $50 bucks, so what? Numbers. A 100k+ desktop environment that most of the fortune 5000 have that translates to $5m.
So? Well the savvy CIO is going to take that $5m right off the top of the next refresh against the vendors margins which are tight enough already. That won’t happen you say! Wrong. That will and has occurred in the thin-client server market. Every project I have every been involved with the CFO types attribute $0 value to the terminals as they are useless in the marketplace without the server software and network.
Well that same consideration will be made by the CFO types when they realize they can’t offset the disposal costs with the salvage value. So they will discount the value of the deal right up front. Now on a $250m dollar refresh sale there may only be $5-10m gross out of the deal to begin with. So you could see why a company like Dell or HP might balk at seeing a exclusive signing deal for Windows 8 as a problem. Its in the fiscal numbers not the security.
Expect either the MFR’s will develop a common UEFI signing system or they will tell Microsoft no dice.
One of the issues with hardware design has been, either its a lone tinkerer at his bench or you are a member of a Hacker design group somewhere in your local area. Well that is now changing there is a new collaboration platform online –
A few years later the founders got back together and without knowing quite what they were going to do, they set out to solve a very real problem. It took them a little while to realize what was sitting there underneath their noses, but they found it in the end. A few pivots and a bit of time went by and they arrived at Upverter’s mission: to foster innovation in physical design and make it universally accessible and as frictionless as possible.
It’s what the founders had always wanted: a solution to the pain that scared them away from hardware; an answer to the isolation and to the reason hardware seems like black magic; a challenge to the reason there are 500,000 mobile apps and only a handful of hardware devices.
At Upverter, we’re trying to fix hardware and we’re starting with making it really easy to extend the limits of mobile devices. We’re trying to make it easy to collaborate, easy to build, and easy to share. We’re helping to build the tools and the lego blocks to snap together hardware. And there is going to be an incredible revolution in hardware and mobile as a result.
As a consequence, UpVerter will do for hardware what the Git service has done for software. Make it portable, shareable and collaborative. For example. Say you are dang good at doing Arduino controls but you need to develop a shield for the board that handles 4 120v relays. You put your design out on the Upverter site. Then you look around for someone with the requisite EE background in power circuits. They can offer up the proper schematics then drop off. You go on to CAD that up as a proto board. The EE pops on just for a review and sign off.
This site could be a revolution in Open Source hardware efforts. Now many people can offer their unique skills to many projects. Only being tasked when they are needed on their own schedules. I expect we will see more coming out of this side of the FOSS camp in the years ahead.
Unwinding the current intellectual property mess probably could be done by permanently barring lawyers from public office and passing new laws after they have departed. With lawyers currently running the show, that will be an uphill battle. The next best hope is Open Source. When no one really owns technology, the marketplace explodes with new possibilities – save one – the innovation stifling patent trolling malaise that bad law enables.
IBM and HP have learned supporting Open Source software development that benefits everyone also provides a vehicle to enhance their bottom lines. Now Intel is joining the ranks of corporate giants who are funding Open Source research. Chipzilla is dangling a $2.5 million per year carrot in front of universities, with strings attached. In return for receiving new technology centers, the participating universities must open source the products of these centers.
So far, most Open source funding has gone to software. Lets hope the deep pocketed corps start funding hardware dev as well. While we’re on the subject, how is it that so much public funded research is never made public?
The judge’s anger at Stone burns clearly throughout his order, especially when he sums up the entire situation:
To summarize the staggering chutzpah involved in this case: Stone asked the Court to authorize sending subpoenas to the ISPs. The Court said “not yet.” Stone sent the subpoenas anyway. The Court appointed the Ad Litems [EFF and Public Citizen] to argue whether Stone could send the subpoenas. Stone argued that the Court should allow him to – even though he had already done so – and eventually dismissed the case ostensibly because the Court was taking too long to make a decision. All the while, Stone was receiving identifying information and communicating with some Does, likely about settlement. The Court rarely has encountered a more textbook example of conduct deserving of sanctions.
Judge Godbey fined Stone $10,000, which he hopes will be enough to “deter similar misconduct and adequately reflects the gravity of the circumstances.” In addition, Stone has to pay the attorney fees for EFF and Public Citizen, and must tell the court if he has settled with anyone in the Mick Haig case, and if so, for how much.
Do I hate lawyers? It depends. I know a few, and they are upstanding people. But the fact is, a lawyer whether licensed in the State or not has not leg for ignorance of the law for a defense. He/she spent 3-4 years learning the law. But when I hear that a lawyer either games the system or outright ignores it as this case indicates, the lawyer in question should be immediately disbarred. He can then go prove he is worthy of being brought back into the fold. Harsh? Yes. But I have seen two lawyers from my home town destroy the fiscal trusts of respected members of the community. There is no excuse.
Am I dreaming? Sure, lawyers protect their own. I applaud the judge in this instance legally wringing the guys neck. He should have made the fine $1m.