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Updated: 24 min 10 sec ago

Fearful of hacking, Dutch will count ballots by hand

Thursday 2nd of February 2017 10:48:31 PM
Let's talk about elections! Except not the American ones, but the Dutch elections, coming up in March. Concerned about the role hackers and false news might have played in the United States election, the Dutch government announced on Wednesday that all ballots in next month's elections would be counted by hand. We haven't been using electronic voting ever since it was demonstrated the machines were quite easily hackable, but everything higher up in the stack was still electronic - such as counting the paper ballot and tallying up the results from the individual voting districts. The upcoming election will now be entirely done by hand - voting, counting, and tallying, making it that much harder for foreign powers to meddle in our elections. This switch to full manual voting is taken two days after Sijmen Ruwhof posted a detailed article explaining just how easy it would be to hack our voting process. Journalists from Dutch TV station RTL contacted me last week and wanted to know whether the Dutch elections could be hacked. They had been tipped off that the current Dutch electoral software used weak cryptography in certain parts of its system (SHA1). I was stunned and couldn't believe what I had just heard. Are we still relying on computers for our voting process? Turns out the "security" of the counting machines and software, as well as the practices of everything around it, is absolutely terrible. The article is an endless stream of facepalms - and really shines a light on just how lacklustre the whole electronic part of the process was, and hence provides an interesting look behind the scenes of an election.

States move to protect their data from the Trump regime

Thursday 2nd of February 2017 07:16:17 PM
In the days after Donald Trump won November's presidential election, immigration and civil liberties advocates began assessing how the new president might carry out his promises to create a registry of Muslims and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Almost immediately, it became clear the Trump administration would need data, and a lot of it, in order to not only peg people's religious affiliation and immigration status but also allow federal agents to verify their identities and track their whereabouts. Information that could be used for such purposes is collected and stored by a variety of state agencies that issue driver's licenses, dispense public assistance, and enforce laws. [...] In Washington state, The Verge has learned, Democratic governor Jay Inslee has directed members of his policy and legal staff to work with a handful of state agencies to identify data that could be utilized by Trump’s deportation officials, and how, if possible, to shield any such information from federal authorities engaging in mass deportation. In California and New York, Democratic lawmakers have proposed legislation to block state data from federal immigration authorities. Democratic legislators have also proposed bills in Washington state, California, New York, and Massachusetts that would prevent state data from being used by federal authorities to build a registry of people belonging to a certain religion. The Republican party, Trump, and its supporters are avid advocates of states' rights, so I'm sure the Republican Trump regime will welcome these moves with open arms.

Haiku: which launcher?

Wednesday 1st of February 2017 11:19:09 PM
So you've installed Haiku from a recently nightly (or sometime soon, the R1 beta) and you’re launching applications from the Deskbar menu (the blue ‘leaf’ menu). Perfect, but there are a few more options to investigate if you want to quickly launch your favourite programs. Neat little overview. For a second there I thought they were replacing Deskbar, and I nearly had a heart attack.

Apple said to work on Mac chip that would lessen Intel role

Wednesday 1st of February 2017 11:15:58 PM
Apple Inc. is designing a new chip for future Mac laptops that would take on more of the functionality currently handled by Intel Corp. processors, according to people familiar with the matter. The chip, which went into development last year, is similar to one already used in the latest MacBook Pro to power the keyboard's Touch Bar feature, the people said. The updated part, internally codenamed T310, would handle some of the computer's low-power mode functionality, they said. The people asked not to be identified talking about private product development. It's built using ARM Holdings Plc. technology and will work alongside an Intel processor. And before you know it, you have a MacBook ARM.

Apple pays newspaper to intentionally mislead readers

Wednesday 1st of February 2017 06:15:02 PM
Earlier today, The Irish Times ran an "article" titled "Brussels broke the rules in its pursuit of Apple's €13bn". That sounds serious, and would definitely have you click. Once you do, you read an article written by "Liza Lovdahl-Gormsen" without any sources, which is basically an almost word-for-word rehash of letters and answers from Tim Cook about the tax deal. The lack of sources and Tim Cook-ery tone of the piece should set off thousands of huge and loud alarm bells in anyone's mind, but it isn't until the very last paragraph of the "article" that the reader stumbles upon this: Liza Lovdahl-Gormsen is director of the Competition Law Forum and senior research fellow in competition law. This article was commissioned from her by Apple and supplied to The Irish Times Pathetic and disingenuous at best, intentionally misleading and ethically reprehensible at worst. The fact that the biggest, richest, and most powerful company in the world has to resort to this kind of unethical behaviour should tell you all you need to know about how certain Apple is of its own claims about the tax deal.

Apple to end support for 32-bit iOS apps

Wednesday 1st of February 2017 03:37:26 PM
Ever launch an app on your iPhone and then get a pop-up warning that says the app may slow down your iPhone? (I have old versions of certain apps, so it shows up for me every once in a while.) That warning usually appears when you're using a 32-bit app. You can still run the app, and you probably don’t even notice the slowdown you've been warned about (at least in my personal experience). Your ability to run that 32-bit app is coming to an end. As several other Mac sites have reported, Apple has updated the pop-up warning in the iOS 10.3 beta to say that the 32-bit app you're running "will not work with future versions of iOS." The warning goes on to say that the "developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility." It'd be interesting to know if this actually affects all that many people.

Open-sourcing Chrome on iOS

Wednesday 1st of February 2017 12:50:40 AM
Historically, the code for Chrome for iOS was kept separate from the rest of the Chromium project due to the additional complexity required for the platform. After years of careful refactoring, all of this code is rejoining Chromium and being moved into the open-source repository. Due to constraints of the iOS platform, all browsers must be built on top of the WebKit rendering engine. For Chromium, this means supporting both WebKit as well as Blink, Chrome's rendering engine for other platforms. That created some extra complexities which we wanted to avoid placing in the Chromium code base. There is no Chrome for iOS. It doesn't exist. Just because it has a Chrome-like UI doesn't mean it's Chrome. Chrome is the whole package - UI and engine. Without the engine, it's not Chrome. I understand Google wants to leverage the brand recognition, and I know I'm splitting hairs, but until Apple allows competing browser engines, iOS only has one browser, with a bunch of skins.

Cipher war: to crack ancient script, linguists turn to machines

Tuesday 31st of January 2017 03:51:39 AM
Though we now have thousands of examples of these symbols, we have very little idea what they mean. Over a century after Cunningham's discovery, the seals remain undeciphered, their messages lost to us. Are they the letters of an ancient language? Or are they just religious, familial, or political symbols? Those hotly contested questions have sparked infighting among scholars and exacerbated cultural rivalries over who can claim the script as their heritage. But new work from researchers using sophisticated algorithms, machine learning, and even cognitive science are finally helping push us to the edge of cracking the Indus script. The Indus Valley Civilization and the mysteries that surround it are deeply fascinating. It was contemporary to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, yet we know relatively little about it. It honestly blows my mind that computers can now be used to decipher its ancient script, which may give us a lot of insight into this civilisation. Like in programming, language is key.

More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: Software

  • Linux Command Line Browser To Surf Internet
    Links is an open source text and graphical web browser with a pull-down menu system. It renders complex pages, has partial HTML 4.0 support (including tables and frames and support for multiple characters sets such as UTF-8), supports color and monochrome terminals and allows horizontal scrolling. It’s very useful for low resources computers because day by day the web pages are bigger and heavier. If your computer doesn’t have a suitable performance you’ll have some mistakes while you’re surfing. So, Links is much faster than any common web browser (with GUI) because it doesn’t load all the content of a website, for example, videos, flash, etc.
  • Stacer – The Linux System Optimizer You’ve Been Waiting For
    System optimizer apps are quite the thing on platforms such as Windows and Android. Their usefulness, however, is debatable considering how notorious they are when it comes to using system resources. On the Linux platform, however, we can almost always find the applications, a developer puts their time in developing to be mostly useful. Stacer is one such app created to better optimized your Linux PC in the sense that it packs quite the list of features you’d normally expect from an optimizer and more to give your system a refresh whenever you feel the need.
  • Ulauncher – A Lightweight Application Launcher for Linux
    Each Desktop environment has the own launcher and doing their job nicely but it take a while to launch the application whenever we are searching. Ulauncher is a lightweight application launcher that loads instant search results, usese low resources, and remembers your previous choices and automatically selects the best option for you. It’s written in Python and uses GTK as a GUI toolkit. When you are typing wrong application name, after few words or spelling, it will figure out what you meant. Use Ulauncher to open your files and directories faster with fuzzy search. Type ~ or / to start browsing. Press Alt+Enter to access the alt menu.

Linux Kernel and Graphics

Security News

  • Windows 10 least secure of Windows versions: study
    Windows 10 was the least secure of of current Windows versions in 2016, with 46% more vulnerabilities than either Windows 8 or 8.1, according to an analysis of Microsoft's own security bulletins in 2016. Security firm Avecto said its research, titled "2016 Microsoft Vulnerabilities Study: Mitigating risk by removing user privileges", had also found that a vast majority of vulnerabilities found in Microsoft products could be mitigated by removing admin rights. The research found that, despite its claims to being the "most secure" of Microsoft's operating systems, Windows 10 had 395 vulnerabilities in 2016, while Windows 8 and 8.1 each had 265. The research also found that while 530 Microsoft vulnerabilities were reported — marginally up from the 524 reported in 2015 — and 189 given a critical rating, 94% could be mitigated by removing admin rights. This was up from 85% in 2015.
  • Windows 10 Creators Update can block Win32 apps if they’re not from the Store [Ed: By Microsoft Peter. People who put Vista 10 on a PC totally lose control of that PC; remember, the OS itself is malware, as per textbook definitions. With DRM and other antifeatures expect copyright enforcement on the desktop soon.]
    The latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build doesn't add much in the way of features—it's mostly just bug fixes—but one small new feature has been spotted, and it could be contentious. Vitor Mikaelson noticed that the latest build lets you restrict the installation of applications built using the Win32 API.
  • Router assimilated into the Borg, sends 3TB in 24 hours
    "Well, f**k." Harsh language was appropriate under the circumstances. My router had just been hacked. Setting up a reliable home network has always been a challenge for me. I live in a cramped three-story house, and I don't like running cables. So my router's position is determined by the fiber modem in a corner on the bottom floor. Not long after we moved in, I realized that our old Airport Extreme was not delivering much signal to the attic, where two game-obsessed occupants fought for bandwidth. I tried all sorts of things. I extended the network. I used Ethernet-over-powerline connectors to deliver network access. I made a mystic circle and danced naked under the full moon. We lost neighbors, but we didn't gain a signal.
  • Purism's Librem 13 Coreboot Port Now "100%" Complete
    According to Purism's Youness Alaoui, their Coreboot port to the Librem 13 v1 laptop is now considered complete. The Librem 13 was long talked about having Coreboot over a proprietary BIOS while the initial models still had shipped with the conventional BIOS. Finally in 2017, they have now Coreboot at what they consider to be 100% complete for this Linux-friendly laptop.
  • The Librem 13 v1 coreboot port is now complete
    Here are the news you’ve been waiting for: the coreboot port for the Librem 13 v1 is 100% done! I fixed all of the remaining issues, it is now fully working and is stable, ready for others to enjoy. I fixed the instability problem with the M.2 SATA port, finished running all the tests to ensure coreboot is working correctly, fixed the headphone jack that was not working, made the boot prettier, and started investigating the Intel Management Engine issue.
  • Linux Update Fixes 11-Year-Old Flaw
    Andrey Konovalov, a security researcher at Google, found a use-after-free hole within Linux, CSO Online reported. This particular flaw is of interest because it appears to be situational. It only showed up in kernels built with a certain configuration option — CONFIG_IP_DCCP — enabled.

Kerala saves Rs 300 cr as schools switch to open software

The Kerala government has made a saving of Rs 300 crore through introduction and adoption of Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) in the school education sector, said a state government official on Sunday. IT became a compulsory subject in Kerala schools from 2003, but it was in 2005 only that FOSS was introduced in a phased manner and started to replace proprietary software. The decision made by the curriculum committee to implement it in the higher secondary sector has also been completed now. Read more