October 7th, 2016

Homicide Commits Suicide, HP Says It’s Sorry & More…

Also included: Judge seems to make software patents illegal, Mageia mourns a contributor, Yakkety Yak frozen, KDE’s new release, and getting ready for All Things Open.

FOSS Week in Review

When I wrote last week’s wrap, Hurricane Matthew seemed to be on a direct path for my office. Now it appears that long before it hits my state it’s going to take a sharp turn to the right and head back out to sea. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, in getting to where it is today, this storm has so far killed nearly 1,000 people that we know of so far, and has made thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, homeless. That’s bad news indeed.

This week’s free tech news was a little more fun…

Digital Homicide logoDigital Homicide commits suicide: In a story that’s been brewing for a while now, it seems that game company Digital Homicide was given enough rope to…well, you know. It seems that the publisher had gotten in the habit of suing any Steam user who dared to post a bad review about one of its games, and actually subpoenaed Valve for the identities of 100 anonymous users who had made statements about the company. This, in turn and understandably, pissed a lot of users off, which led to Valve removing all games from Steam.

You didn’t need a crystal ball to predict the results. Digital Homicide has now filed a motion to have all lawsuits dismissed. The company is financially ruined and unable to move forward with the litigation. In other words, it’s all but out of business.

One of Digital Homicide’s founders, James Romine, told TechRaptor’s Don Parsons:

“The case dismissal was only due to financial reasons caused by the removal of our games. I believe the case was very solid. There were in excess of 140 false statements by the 11 steam users, tens of thousands of posts harassing myself and my customers, three direct interference with written contracts with third parties by steam users (some of which were competitors), and much more. A combined in excess of 25 reports were filed against the worst users of the 11 with no resolutions being found.”

Romine goes on to paint a poor-pitiful-me picture that appears, according to Nathan Grayson at Kotaku, to be mostly, if not entirely, bunk.

“It’s hard to feel bad for Digital Homicide, given that they often lashed out at Steam users and flooded the platform with shoddy games, likely as a means of abusing the trading card system to rake in money. They’ve now taken to claiming they were leading a pro-consumer charge for ‘for lower prices and a more open market,’ which is some pretty ludicrous historical revisionism. However, as I recently discussed at length, there is a kernel of truth to their unhinged ramblings. Steam’s evolved into a place that subtly pits users and developers against each other in a relationship that’s turned toxic. Mob tactics that verge on harassment are systemically encouraged, and things only get worse with each day that Valve continues to turn a blind eye.”

Who knew gaming could be so much fun?

Judge makes software patents illegal: I’m sure this will be a short-lived victory, but a federal judge has issued a ruling that would seem to make software patents illegal. The ruling comes from Judge Haldane Mayer and you can read about it on Techdirt.

HP to remove DRM from printers: In a statement that was full of we-did-it-to-protect-you rhetoric, HP has said that it’s going to remove DRM that it installed as an update on certain models of its printers that prevented users from using ink cartridges with security chips not manufactured by HP. The update removing the DRM will not happen immediately however.

“[W]e will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature. We expect the update to be ready within two weeks and will post additional information here as it becomes available.”

There is also some indication that this fix might not be permanent, as the company is still intent on protecting its “intellectual property” being used on machines it no longer owns because it sold them in the marketplace.

“We will continue to use security features to protect the quality of our customer experience, maintain the integrity of our printing systems, and protect our IP including authentication methods that may prevent some third-party supplies from working.

“However, we commit to improving our communication so that customers understand our concerns about cloned and counterfeit supplies. Again, to our loyal customers who were affected, we apologize.”

Passing notes: The folks at Mageia have been mourning the loss of Thomas Spuhler, who had been a contributor to both Mandriva and Mageia during the last decade. Spuher died on September 17 at the age of 68 after fighting colon cancer for over a year.

Quick takes: As of Thursday, Ubuntu’s Yakkety Yak has entered its final freeze period in preparation for the final release of Ubuntu 16.10 next week…. On Tuesday, KDE released Plasma 5.8 LTS, the “first Long Term Support edition of its flagship desktop software, Plasma.” This might be seen as something of a birthday present to itself, as KDE turns 20 on October 14.

Parting shot: The fourth annual installment of the All Things Open conference in Raleigh, North Carolina is set to open its doors in just a little over a couple of weeks. As I have since the conference’s beginning, I’ll be offering coverage, beginning this Monday.

That does it for another week. Until next time, may the FOSS be with you…

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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3 comments to Homicide Commits Suicide, HP Says It’s Sorry & More…

  • “I’m sure this will be a short-lived victory, but a federal judge has issued a ruling that would seem to make software patents illegal.”

    I’m afraid that’s not accurate at all.

    A judge stated that he believes software patents are invalid, but it wasn’t in a ruling, it was in a concurring opinion. It’s not legally binding.

    It’s a positive step, but not as big of one as you make it sound.

  • Mike

    “cloned and counterfeit supplies”

    You mean third-party supplies without the ridiculous highway-robbery markup that had to work around your “protection” of your customers?

    Wow, HP is full of shit. (So is their ink.)

  • @Mike: HP’s claim that it’s protecting customers is delightful, too.

    So, HP, you really thought you were protecting us?

    Okay then. If that’s true, why did the patch wait six months before it activated?