Friday FOSS Week in Review
What a wacky week for tech news this has been! I couldn’t make much of this stuff up if I tried – and if I did, you wouldn’t believe it. That’s one of the nice things about the Internet, I can provide you with links so you can see for yourself that these stories really happened…
Apple Loses Another iPhone Prototype in Bar
Less than a year and a half after an Apple employee lost a top secret prototype of an iPhone 4 in a bar, it’s happened again. This time the prototype of an iPhone 5 was lost at Cava 22, a bar located in San Francisco’s mission district. Although every tech site on the planet is covering this story, I think it’s only fitting to turn to Gizmodo for a quote, given their connection with the first lost prototype:
“Apple apparently contacted police about the “priceless” phone that had gone missing, and even gave them a location for it, where a resident admitted being at Cava 22 the night it went missing. Nonetheless, the police (and Apple investigators) failed to turn it up. Apple employees even apparently offered the man money for the phone, no questions asked, without success. Apple did not file a police report.
“CNET postulates that the phone may have been sold on Craigslist for $200. But it doesn’t provide any evidence of that, nor does it name any sources, which is kind of odd. But based on what it does reveal, my guess is that it has a source within the San Francisco Police Department. There’s a lot of inside information that only a cop or prosecutor would know. Unless one of the Apple investigators is talking.”
A little background: In April of last year an Apple employee managed to lose an iPhone 4 camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS in a bar in Redwood City. In that case, the phone was found by Brian Hogan at Gourmet Haus Staudt bar and restaurant in Redwood City, and he got a friend, Sage Wallower, to help him sell the device for $5,000 to Jason Chen with Gizmodo. Coincidentally, that case was the subject of a court hearing on September 1st, with Hogan and Wallower pleading not guilty to misdemeanor charges in San Mateo County Superior Court. Chen is not being charged.
It seems as if Apple indeed understands they have a security problem. On Friday, Mark Gurman reported on 9to5Mac that the company is looking for a “New Product Security Manager”:
“Possibly related to Apple actually losing yet another unreleased iPhone in bar, Apple is now searching for new leaders for their product security team. The company has posted two new job listings on their official job search website for managers for the unreleased products security team.”
Anyone familiar with Apple can’t help but be struck by the irony of this story. There’s not a company in Silicon Valley that tries to play its cards closer to its chest.
Reports that Intel Is Pulling Out of MeeGo Are Evidently a False Alarm
Last Friday, when Digitimes reported that Intel was evidently severing their commitment to MeeGo, it looked like a death warrant was being signed for the “other” Linux based mobile operating system. Nokia, the other big commercial partner, has already already all but abandoned the OS to bet their future on Windows Phone 7. On Tuesday, the story got more interesting when Sara Yin reported on PCMag.com that Samsung was considering purchasing MeeGo.
Yesterday Don Clark, blogging for the Wall Street Journal, reports that Intel is still behind the MeeGo project:
“’Nothing is changing,’ said Doug Fisher, an Intel vice president who is a general manager overseeing system software for the chip maker, during a event in San Francisco Thursday. Intel remains ‘fully committed’ to Meego, he added.
“On the other hand, Fisher made it sound like Intel would really like another major corporate helper to help refine Meego. The operating system is officially overseen by the non-profit Linux Foundation, which helps oversee contributions to the software on an open-source basis.
“’We will continue’ with development, Fisher says. ‘It’s just a question of who is going to help us shape that.'”
In other words, while Samsung’s alleged interest in MeeGo remains nothing more than rumor, Intel probably wouldn’t mind if they stepped up to help with the heavy lifting.
WebOS Isn’t Yet “Most Sincerely Dead”
By this point, I’m not sure that even the folks at HP know what they’re planning.
On Monday Paul Kunert posted on The Register that HP has taken WebOS out of the PC division and is moving the development team to the Office of Strategy and Technology – evidently a place for the OS folks to cool their heels until management decides what to do next:
“In an internal memo from HP execs that was leaked to precentral.net, PSG chief Todd Bradley said it made sense to rehouse the webOS software engineering, developer relations and product marketing under the wing of OS&T enterprise veep Shane Robison.
“‘Reorganising the webOS software teams under OS&T allows us to fully investigate how we can utilise the webOS platform. The pan-HP charter of OS&T provides a broad view of how we can optimise our technologies,’ he said in the note.
“This will lift webOS bods out of PSG and will send the platform to the heart of its R&D operation, while the hardware unit remains under the management of Stephen DeWitt.”
Evidently, HP still plans on ridding themselves of the rest of Palm and their consumer PC business as soon as they can figure out how. Stay tuned….
Linux Development Temporarily Moves to GitHub After Black Hat Hack
As kernel.org recovers from being compromised by hackers, Linus Torvalds has decided to temporarily make GitHub the repository for Linux. According to The H Open, he’s published the fifth release candidate of Linux 3.1 there:
“That makes GitHub the quasi-official source for Linux 3.1-rc5 because Torvalds cannot yet upload a new tar archive with the new pre-release to kernel.org. In the release email, he tells kernel hackers how to update their git checkout temporarily via GitHub. Torvalds also made it clear that he plans to return to kernel.org; GitHub will only be used as a mirror for the official development branch once Kernel.org is operational again.”
Soon enough, they’ll get the hard drives at kernel.org scrubbed with Lysol and things will get back to normal.
Yahoo Fires CEO, Investor Group Blasts Board
This story is another one of those weird coincidences for me. I was just in the process of writing an article on what’s wrong with Yahoo, when out of the blue, this story come down the pipe. The firing happened on Tuesday, but most of us heard about it Wednesday morning, from reports like this from the Associated Press (by way of Yahoo, oddly enough):
“Yahoo Inc. fired Carol Bartz as CEO Tuesday after more than 2½ years of financial lethargy that had convinced investors that she couldn’t steer the Internet company to a long-promised turnaround.
“To fill the void, Yahoo’s board named Tim Morse, its chief financial officer, as interim CEO. Bartz lured Morse away from computer chip maker Altera Corp. two years ago to help her cuts costs. Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, California, said it is looking for a permanent replacement.”
Since being fired, Bartz has been all sorts of potty mouthed, and seems to have found every four letter word in the dictionary to use to describe her previous employer. Don’t feel too sorry for her though. Evidently, her contract stipulates for her to receive much more money if she’s discharged from her CEO duties than if she actually stays on the job. However, it appears that her foul mouth could cost her as much as $10 million for breaking a non-disparagement clause in her contract according to Fortune:
“A source close to the company tells us that Bartz did indeed have a non-disparagement clause in her employment contract, on which there is still around $10 million outstanding.
“Moreover, the source suggests that Bartz likely violated that clause with some of her statements to Fortune. If not for the getting f–ked over part, then certainly for the doofuses part. In fact, this could go down as the first time in history that the term “doofus” has cost — or made — anyone a substantial amount of money.”
All of this makes me wonder if Bartz has ever met Charlie Sheen? The two would seem to have a lot in common, no?
To make matters even more interesting, it appears that an investment group called Third Point has quietly purchased 65 million shares of Yahoo since August 8, making them suddenly the third largest Yahoo shareholder with a 5.2% stake in the company. According to the Associated Press (again, by way of Yahoo), in a letter from Daniel Loeb, the chief executive of the fund, they’re now calling for more sweeping changes at the web portal:
“Loeb said the board made a ‘serious misjudgment’ in hiring Bartz, and he criticized it for taking so long to fire her given her ‘abysmal performance.’ He slammed Bartz personally for alienating the company’s Asian partners — Alibaba Group, Softbank and Yahoo Japan — as well as Yahoo’s shareholders, analysts, bloggers, customers and employees.
“‘While the decision to hire her alone is grounds for questioning the board’s competence, its willingness to turn a blind eye to these serious problems … is even more troubling,’ Loeb said.
“Loeb also said it is now apparent that the board made a ‘gross error’ in turning down Microsoft Corp.’s takeover bid in 2008 for $31 a share. Microsoft raised its bid to $33 per share, or $47.5 billion, before withdrawing the offer in May 2008. Loeb believes Yahoo’s intrinsic value is now around $20 per share.”
I can’t wait for Monday to see what happens next.
Google Shares New Patents With HTC to Use Against Apple
A few months back, Google’s Eric Schmidt indicated that the search company wasn’t going to leave HTC out in the cold concerning their Android patent woes. At the time he didn’t give a clue as to what Google would do to help, but at the time they didn’t have much of a war chest of mobile patents either. Now that’s changed and it’s Google to the rescue.
On Thursday, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that HTC is using nine patents it recently purchased from Google to use in their patent battle against Apple:
“HTC now has more ammunition in its fight to fend off multiple patent-infringement claims lodged by Apple that contend phones running Google’s Android operating system copy the iPhone. Google’s involvement in aiding HTC represents a new front in an industrywide dispute over smartphone technology that has also ensnared Android customers Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.”
Samsung has evidently heard the old adage that “the best defense is a good offense,” because they used their new patents to promptly file suit against Apple.
More Mobile Makers Sign Deals With Evil Empire
We can add a few more vendors using Android and Chrome to the list of companies who are willing to pay blackmail to Microsoft to keep their devices on the market. This week cnet reported that Acer and ViewSonic have inked deals to keep Ballmer & Company off their backs.
Well, that’s it for this week. I’ll see you on Monday. In the meantime, may the FOSS be with you…