Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Techrights

Syndicate content
Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 55 min 43 sec ago

Links 16/1/2018: More on Barcelona, OSI at 20

9 hours 30 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Barcelona to ditch Microsoft in favour of open source software

    THE SPANISH CITY OF BARCELONA plans to replace its Microsoft software with open source alternatives including Linux, Libre Office and Open Xchange.

    Barcelona plans to invest 70 per cent of its annual software budget in open source this year, according to El Pais, with the aim of completing the transformation by spring 2019.

    Microsoft’s Outlook and Exchange Server email software is to be replaced by Open-Xchange, Microsoft Office will be ditched in favour of Libre Office, and Mozilla’s Firefox will be made the default browser across systems.

  • Barcelona becomes the poster child for Linux

    The City of Barcelona is migrating its computer systems away from Windows making it the poster child for Open Source rather than Munich which is frantically trying to migrate back.

    According to the Spanish newspaper El País, the City’s strategy is first to replace all user applications with open-source alternatives until the underlying Windows operating system is the only proprietary software remaining. Then the operating system will be replaced with Linux.

    Commissioner of Technology and Digital Innovation at Barcelona City Council, Francesca Bria, said the transition would be completed before the current administration’s mandate ends in spring 2019.

  • Barcelona gives Microsoft the boot in move to open source

    With this move Barcelona becomes the first city to join an initiative by Free Software Foundation Europe dubbed ‘Public code, public money’ which calls on public bodies to invest tax revenues in free reusable systems that are open to local businesses rather than proprietary licensed software.

  • Barcelona to ditch Microsoft in favour of open source Linux software

    Catalan capital Barcelona is planning to ditch proprietary software products from Microsoft in favour of free, open source alternatives such as Open-Xchange email.

    That’s according to a report by Spain’s national paper El Pais, which reports that Barcelona plans to invest 70% of its annual software budget in open source this year.

  • Barcelona Aims To Oust Microsoft In Open Source Drive

    The city of Barcelona has embarked on an ambitious open source effort aimed at reducing its dependence on large proprietary software vendors such as Microsoft, including the replacement of both applications and operating systems.

  • Barcelona to ditch Microsoft software for open source software

    Barcelona, one of the most popular cities in the Europe is now switching to open-source software by replacing Microsoft Windows, Office and Exchange with Linux, Libre Office and Open Xchange respectively. The city council is already piloting the use of Ubuntu Linux desktops along with Mozilla Firefox as the default browser. With this move, Barcelona city is planning to save money over the years by reducing software/service licensing fees. They are also planning to hire new developers to write open-source software. The open-source product will also be made available to other Spanish municipalities and public bodies further afield allowing them the opportunity to save money on software licences.

  • Barcelona to ditch Microsoft in favour of open source Linux software

    Catalan capital Barcelona is planning to ditch proprietary software products from Microsoft in favour of free, open source alternatives such as Open-Xchange email.

    That’s according to a report by Spain’s national paper El Pais, which reports that Barcelona plans to invest 70% of its annual software budget in open source this year.

  • Barcelona is moving to Linux; why not Dhaka?

    The Spanish city of Barcelona just announced a few days ago (https://www.itwire.com/open-source/81377-barcelona-plans-move-to-open-source-software.html) that it has successfully completed a pilot project of moving 1,000 desktops of municipality employees from Microsoft Windows and MS Office to free/open-source alternatives, Ubuntu Linux (www.ubuntu.com/desktop) and LibreOffice (www.libreoffice.org).

    The question is why countries like Bangladesh, which are much less wealthy than Spain, are not making similar moves to replace expensive Microsoft software with free/open-source alternatives.

    The simple fact is that there is almost no awareness of the real cost of Microsoft software in Bangladesh, as software piracy is so commonplace. Every market has shops stocking pirated MS Windows/MS Office DVDs; so the public can be forgiven for thinking that these are practically free of cost.

  • Barcelona abandons Windows and Office, goes with Linux instead
  • Windows vs Linux: Open source beats Microsoft to win Barcelona’s backing
  • Barcelona quits Windows and Office goes Linux
  • Adios Microsoft: We’re ditching Office and Outlook for open source, says Barcelona
  • Best Linux desktop of 2018

    The desktop is a critical aspect of your Linux experience, providing you with a user-friendly way to interact with your computer. Unlike Windows or Mac, Linux doesn’t tie you to a single desktop. Switching desktop environments is incredibly straightforward – just install a new one, log out and choose it from the login screen. You can install as many desktop environments as you like, although you can only use one at a time.

    In this guide, we’ve rounded up seven of the most popular desktops, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Before you dive in, however, take some time to think about what you want from your desktop.

    A desktop environment is more than the wallpaper which appears when you log in. It also includes a window manager and usually a set of utilities. It may come in the form of a pre-assembled package, such as Gnome or KDE, or it may be assembled by the distro maintainer, such as CrunchBang++’s Openbox or Puppy’s JWM.

  • Best Linux distros 2018: the finest open source operating systems around

    Linux is widely-regarded as the discerning techie’s operating system of choice, and with good reason. The open source OS has an awful lot to recommend it, and it’s every bit as capable as Windows or macOS.

    One of the reasons Linux has proved to be so popular with developers, engineers and technical professionals is that it’s almost infinitely versatile, with a wealth of customisation options. It’s also got a reputation as being extremely secure.

    Linux doesn’t just cater to traditional desktop PCs, either. There are also distros designed to run enterprise-grade applications and servers as well as desktop clients.

  • Linux kernel mailing list back online; Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities; Mobile OS eelo; Barcelona now using Linux

    The popular Linux Kernel Mailing List website is back online after going down and staying down for several days due to a power outage to the home server where it was hosted. Upon reboot, a password (for dm-crypt) was required to mount the root device; however, that in itself was not the problem. The problem was the fact that the PC’s owner, Jasper, was on vacation when all of this occurred. Anyway, the site is now back up and continuing to operate as it always has.

    Speaking of the kernel mailing lists, Johannes Weiner issued a call for proposals for agenda topics to the upcoming annual 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem and Memory Management (LSF/MM) Summit. The deadline is January 31, 2018, and the summit will be held between April 23-25 At Deer Valley Lodges in Park City, Utah. For more information, visit the Linux Foundation Events page.

  • Documentary films on Linux!

    The Code & Revolution OS! Those are documentary films released in 2001. The Code is based on birth and journey of Linux & Revolution OS is based on 20 years journey of Linux, GNU, Open Source world.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Red Hat launches new podcast series, Command Line Heroes

      Technology has become so integrated into our daily lives that it can be easy to take it for granted. But we’ve only gotten to where we are today because of the command line heroes that shaped the industry – and continue to do so.

      Command line hero. What does that really mean? To us it’s the developers, programmers, hackers, geeks and open source rebels – the people who are on the front line, transforming technology from the command line up. The biggest technology advancements and innovations didn’t happen by accident. They were made possible through the passion, creativity and persistence of technologists around the world.

    • Command Line Heroes

      I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while, ever since it was announced: today, the first two episodes of Command Line Heroes were published. Command Line Heroes, or CLH for short, is a series of podcasts that tells the stories of open source. It’s hosted by Saron Yitbarek, of CodeNewbie fame, and sponsored by Red Hat.

  • Kernel Space
    • Retpoline Backported To Linux 4.9, Linux 4.14 Kernels

      Retpoline support for mitigating the Spectre vulnerabilities will soon be present in the Linux 4.9 and 4.14 stable kernels.

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has sent out the latest patches for the Linux 4.9 and 4.14 point releases, which now include the Retpoline support.

    • Retpoline Is Still Being Improved Upon For Intel Skylake/Kabylake

      While initial support for Retpoline was merged into the Linux 4.15 Git kernel last week and is now being backported to some supported Linux kernel series, there is still additional work ongoing for properly mitigating Spectre v2 on Intel Skylake CPUs and newer.

      It turns out Skylake CPUs and newer require additional patches to fully mitigate against the Spectre Variant Two vulnerability. These newer CPUs can fallback to a potentially poisoned indirect branch predictor when a return buffer underflows. Andi Kleen of Intel has sent out a new patch series dubbed “RETPOLINE_UNDERFLOW” that gets enabled by default for Skylake CPUs and newer.

    • VirtualBox Guest Driver Being Mainlined With Linux 4.16

      The upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel cycle will be mainlining the VirtualBox Guest “vboxguest” kernel driver.

      As part of an effort led by Red Hat, the VirtualBox guest drivers are finally working towards mainline in the Linux kernel and with 4.16 there is the vboxguest driver as a notable step following the VirtualBox DRM/KMS driver in Linux 4.13.

    • Linus Torvalds Is Hopeful for a January 21 Release of the Linux 4.15 Kernel

      The eighth and probably the last RC (Release Candidate) of the upcoming Linux 4.15 kernel series has been announced by Linus Torvalds over the weekend and it’s now ready for public testing.

      Coming a week after the seventh RC, Linux kernel 4.15 Release Candidate 8 is here with more patches against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities publicly disclosed earlier this month. Most specifically, it brings x86 “retpoline” support, a solution developed by Google and other security researchers to not allow speculation on the CPU.

    • LSFMM 2018 call for proposals

      The 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit will be held April 23-25 in Park City, Utah. The call for proposals has just gone out with a tight deadline: they need to be received by January 31.

    • Analyzing the Linux boot process

      The oldest joke in open source software is the statement that “the code is self-documenting.” Experience shows that reading the source is akin to listening to the weather forecast: sensible people still go outside and check the sky. What follows are some tips on how to inspect and observe Linux systems at boot by leveraging knowledge of familiar debugging tools. Analyzing the boot processes of systems that are functioning well prepares users and developers to deal with the inevitable failures.

    • BPF Getting Error Injection & More In Linux 4.16

      While BPF has been under the spotlight recently in light of Spectre, with the upcoming Linux 4.16 cycle this in-kernel virtual machine and originally packet filter will be picking up new features.

    • Jailhouse Guest Support Queued For Linux 4.16

      Yet more functionality to find with the upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel is the first bits of Jailhouse hypervisor functionality being mainlined.

      Since at least 2013 Siemens has been developing the Jailhouse hypervisor for Linux systems. This partitioning hypervisor aims to be lighter than KVM and Siemens has been designing it for “highly demanding real-time, safety or security” workloads.

    • Retpoline patch coming to Linux 4.9 and Linux 4.14

      Several Linux kernel versions, including 4.9, 4.14, and the upcoming 4.15, will have Retpoline support built in to mitigate against the Spectre vulnerability. Greg Kroah-Hartman, one of the head honchos overlooking kernel development, accepted the patch into the 4.9 and 4.14 kernels meaning Linux users everywhere should be secure from Spectre without any performance hits.

      The exact kernel versions to look out for are 4.9.77 and 4.14.14. Unfortunately, for those of us still on Linux 4.4 and 3.18, which are still supported, there is no sign of the Retpoline patch just yet despite getting receiving other updates. Hopefully it’ll be released in a subsequent update after they’ve had time to monitor for any problems in 4.9 and 4.14.

    • Retpoline Support Backport Lands In GCC 7

      The backporting of -mindirect-branch, -mindirect-return and -mindirect-branch-register, a.k.a. the GCC “Retpoline” patches, have been back-ported and merged into the GCC 7 branch.

      Given the severity of the Spectre vulnerability, these features for Retpoline support are being back-ported to GCC branches normally only reserved for bug/regression/documentation fixes.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Experimental XDG-Shell Support For Mir’s Wayland Support

        Mir’s Wayland support continues being hacked on and now being tackled is support for the XDG-Shell protocol.

        A proof of concept implementation for the XDG Shell protocol has been posted for Mir. The XDG-Shell protocol as a reminder is used for managing surfaces under Wayland compositors for dealing with window dragging, resizing, stacking, and other actions.

      • Vulkan 1.0.68 Published

        Coming just over one week since Vulkan 1.0.67 is now the Vulkan 1.0.68 graphics/compute programming specification update.

        Given the short time from Vulkan 1.0.67 to 1.0.68, this updated version does not introduce any new extensions. Vulkan 1.0.68 just has documentation fixes: correcting some typos and making other clarifications for helping developers understand expected behavior of some elements of Vulkan.

      • Intel’s Mesa Driver Is A Step Closer To ARB_gl_spirv Support

        Igalia has sent out the fourth version of their patches for wiring in ARB_gl_spirv support into the Mesa OpenGL driver. This extension is the last main blocker from Intel having OpenGL 4.6 support and allows for SPIR-V ingestion support for better interoperability between OpenGL and Vulkan.

      • Mesa Gets Patches For EGL_ANDROID_blob_cache

        An Intel open-source developer has sent out a set of patches implementing the EGL ANDROID_blob_cache extension for Mesa.

      • GPU Voltage Control Support Coming To AMDGPU Driver

        Patches are being prepped to improve the OverDrive overclocking/underclocking support within the AMDGPU DRM driver and for allowing voltage controls.

      • Mesa 17.3.3 Is On The Way With Better Vega Support On Vulkan

        Mesa 17.3.3 should be released later this week with nearly three dozen fixes over the previous Mesa 17.3 point release.

      • Advanced DRI Configurator: A New Mesa GUI Project

        An independent open-source developer has announced “Advanced DRI Configurator” in what he’s hoping could eventually replace DriConf for configuring Mesa parameters.

        Developer Jean Hertel has announced his initial work on trying to write a DriConf replacement. The Advanced DRI Configurator, or “adriconf” for short, is this young project written in C++ and GTKmm.

      • Red Hat Developer Manages Full Clock-Gating For Kepler With Nouveau

        In improving the power-savings of NVIDIA GeForce 600/700 “Kepler” GPUs running on the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver, Red Hat developer Lyude Paul has published a set of patches allowing for full clock-gating with these older graphics cards.

        Following lots of reverse engineering, rewrites, and tracing the behavior of the NVIDIA proprietary driver, Lyude has implemented all known levels of clock-gating for Kepler1/Kepler2 GPUs. Lyude was also working on Fermi GPU support, but its clock-gating is being handled differently and currently that code isn’t yet ready.

    • Benchmarks
      • ADATA XPG SX6000: Benchmarking A ~$50 USD 128GB NVMe SSD On Linux

        While solid-state drives have generally been quite reliable in recent years and even with all the benchmarking I put them through have had less than a handful fail out of dozens, whenever there’s a bargain on NVMe SSDs, it’s hard to resist. The speed of NVMe SSDs has generally been great and while it’s not a key focus on Phoronix (and thus generally not receiving review samples of them), I upgrade some of the server room test systems when finding a deal. The latest is trying an ADATA XPG SX6000 NVMe SSD I managed to get for $49.99 USD.

      • 16-Way GPU Comparison With NVIDIA GPUs Going Back To Kepler

        Last week I provided a fresh look at the NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon Linux gaming performance using the latest drivers at the start of 2018. That testing included the latest NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, but for those curious how these numbers compare for older NVIDIA GPUs, here’s a look with the Kepler and Maxwell graphics cards added to the comparison.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Flatpak Support Getting More Mature in KDE Plasma’s Discover Package Manager

        Those interesting in installing Flatpak universal Linux apps on their KDE Plasma-based GNU/Linux distros, should know that Flatpak support in the Plasma Discover package manager is now more mature and ready for production. It can handle multiple Flatpak repos, as well as installing of packages from the Flathub repository.

        With the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS desktop environment, Plasma Discover will support different backends, including Flatpak and Snappy, allowing users to search, download and install Flatpak and Snap apps. However, such a backend doesn’t come installed by default, so you’ll have to add it manually.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.42 Open-Source Software Suite Released for KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS

        KDE Frameworks 5.42.0 is out now just in time for the soon-to-be-released KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS Beta desktop environment, and includes numerous improvements and bug fixes for various components like Baloo, Breeze icons, KActivities, KCoreAddons, KDeclarative, KDED, KDBusAddons, KConfig, KDocTools, KHTML, KEmoticons, KFileMetaData, KI18n, KIO, KInit, Kirigami, and KJobWidgets.

        It also improves things like KNewStuff, KNotification, KRunner, KWayland, KTextEditor, KWallet Framework, KWidgetsAddons, KXMLGUI, NetworkManagerQt, Plasma Framework, Prison, QQC2StyleBridge, Sonnet, syntax highlighting, KPackage Framework, as well as KDELibs 4 support and extra CMake modules. The complete changelog is available below for more details on the new fixes.

      • KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS Enters Beta, Brings Unified Look and Phone Integration

        Designed as the next long-term support (LTS) version of the popular desktop environment, replacing the KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS on users’ computers when it will be out early next month, KDE Plasma 5.12 is an important milestone that introduces numerous stability and reliability improvements, along with a bunch of new and long-anticipated features.

        One of the most important changes in KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS is the greatly improved support for the next-generation Wayland display server, with a long-term support promise as the KDE Project will continue to patch bugs and other issues until the end of life of the desktop environment next year.

      • KDE Plasma 5.12 Reaches Beta With Faster Start-Up Time, Better Wayland Support
      • This App Automatically Disables Compositing in KDE When Opening Steam

        Compositor Switcher for KDE is a small utility that can disable compositing on the KDE Plasma desktop when running a specific gaming client.

      • digiKam 5.8 Open-Source Image Manipulator Adds UPnP/DLNA Export, Improvements

        The digiKam 5.8.0 open-source cross-platform image editor, viewer, and organizer tool has been released over the weekend with numerous improvements and some new features.

        Coming four months after the previous release, digiKam 5.8.0 is here with another set of enhancements for fans of the applications. For starters, the new version introduces a new tool that allows users to export their image collections to UPnP/DLNA-compatible devices. It can be accessed in all of digiKam’s views through the Tools menu.

        “In September 2017, the digiKam team has been invited to take part in the Randa Meetings,” reads the release announcement. “We have focused the reunion on including the new media server dedicated to sharing collection contents on local networks with compatible DLNA devices or applications, such as tablets, cellulars, TV, etc.”

      • Season Of KDE

        After contributing for several months at GCompris, I applied for SoK 2018 and finally my proposal got selected among top 10 participants. I am very happy with the results I have got.

      • SoK Project – Week 1 & 2

        With all the happiness after being selected for SoK 2018, I was looking forward to start working on my project with whole dedication. My project aims to complete port of a brain-boosting memory activity called “Railroad” (in which kids have to observe the given train and memorize it within given time and then try to rebuild it) from Gtk+ to Qt version. It is a part of project GCompris(a high-quality educational software suite, including a large number of activities for children aged 2 to 10). My mentors are Timothée Giet and Rudra Nil Basu, along with them I’d like to thank a lot to Johnny Jazeix and Divyam Madaan for helping me with my project. My SoK proposal can be found here –> SoK Proposal. And my progress can be tracked at –> Railroad branch.

      • Reasons to Get Excited about KDE in 2018
      • Three old Plasma Weather applet TODO items gone for Plasma 5.12

        Just when I thought to have missed yet another Plasma feature freeze deadline with the one for Plasma 5.12 LTS and thus a good(?) excuse to re-decrease priority of some planned work on the Plasma Addons Weather applet (from the kdeplasma-addons repo, not to be mixed up with clearmartin’s one from github/store.kde.org) once more and thus delay things even further to a day that may never come, the Plasma team found they need to shift the deadline by some weeks to be after the KDE Frameworks 5.42.0 release.
        So excuse gone, no other quickly found… time to do a git pull and open the editor.

      • Plasma on ARM: State of the Union

        For the past year at Blue Systems my colleagues and I have been working on getting Plasma 5 ready for ARMv8 systems such as the Pinebook. If you were at QtCon this year, you might have also seen our awesome team demo’ing these systems at the KDE booth along with Plasma on ARMv7 systems such as the ODROID C1.

      • Sharing Files on Android or iOS from or with your Qt App – Part 2
      • KDE Plans to Introduce New Apps and Plasma Stability Improvements in 2018

        For starters, 2018 will bring KDE users a new, long-term supported Plasma desktop environment, version 5.12, which just entered beta stages of development the other day giving us a first glimpse into its new features and improvements.

        While it’s mostly focused on stability and speed improvements, the KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS release promises better, long-term Wayland support, smartphone integration, a unified look, infinite customizations, as well as integrated desktop widgets and search.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • How to Install GNOME Shell Extensions GUI / CLI

        GNOME Shell extensions are small and lightweight pieces of codes that enhance GNOME desktop’s functionality and improves the user experience. They are the equivalent of add-ons in your browser. For instance, you can have add-ons that download videos like IDM downloader or block annoying ads such as Adblocker.

        Similarly, GNOME extensions perform certain tasks e.g. Display weather and geolocation. One of the tools used to install and customize GNOME Shell extensions is the GNOME tweak tool. It comes pre-installed in the latest Linux distributions. This article we cover how to install GNOME Shell extensions from GUI and from the command line on various Linux distros.

      • Musings on bug trackers

        I love bugzilla, I really do. I’ve used it nearly my entire career in free software. I know it well, I like the command line tool integration. But I’ve never had a day in bugzilla where I managed to resolve/triage/close nearly 100 issues. I managed to do that today with our gitlab instance and I didn’t even mean to.

      • ABI stability for GXml

        I’m taking a deep travel across Vala code; trying to figure out how things work. With my resent work on abstract methods for compact classes, may I have an idea on how to provide ABI stability to GXml.

        GXml have lot of interfaces for DOM4, implemented in classes, like Gom* series. But they are a lot, so go for each and add annotations, like Gee did, to improve ABI, is a hard work.

      • GXml is near for ABI stability

        Today I managed to create a patch to provide ABI stability for GXml and any other Vala library.

        ABI is one of the more important aspect in a library; allows to produce binaries fixing issues and add features while the applications, depending on it, don’t need to be recompiled

  • Distributions
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SLES 12 Toolchain Update Brings new Developer Tools
      • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 Updates Its Developer Toolchain to GCC 7

        SUSE’s Andreas Jaeger writes in a blog post about the updated toolchain of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 operating system and the new developer tools it brings.

        The article notes the fact that with the release of GNU Compiler Collection 7, the GCC team brought numerous improvements for developers, including better diagnostics, DWARF 5 support, as well as support for the C++ 17 standard.

        GCC 7 also contains improved optimization passes and takes advantage of some of the features of modern processors, and now it is available to all SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 customers with an active subscription.

      • Become a Google Summer of Code Mentor for openSUSE

        The application period for organizations wanting to participate in the Google Summer of Code is now and the openSUSE project is once again looking for mentors who are willing to put forth projects to mentor GSoC students.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • RHL’18 in Saint-Cergue, Switzerland

        In between eating fondue and skiing, I found time to resurrect some of my previous project ideas for Google Summer of Code. Most of them are not specific to Debian, several of them need co-mentors, please contact me if you are interested.

      • Quick recap of 2017

        After the Stretch release, it was time to attend DebConf’17 in Montreal, Canada. I’ve presented the latest news on the Debian Installer front there as well. This included a quick demo of my little framework which lets me run automatic installation tests. Many attendees mentioned openQA as the current state of the art technology for OS installation testing, and Philip Hands started looking into it. Right now, my little thing is still useful as it is, helping me reproduce regressions quickly, and testing bug fixes… so I haven’t been trying to port that to another tool yet.

        I also gave another presentation in two different contexts: once at a local FLOSS meeting in Nantes, France and once during the mini-DebConf in Toulouse, France. Nothing related to Debian Installer this time, as the topic was how I helped a company upgrade thousands of machines from Debian 6 to Debian 8 (and to Debian 9 since then). It was nice to have Evolix people around, since we shared our respective experience around automation tools like Ansible and Puppet.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Wallpaper Contest Welcomes Talented Photographers and Artists

            Announced today by Ubuntu member Nathan Haines, Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is now officially open for submissions, and since Ubuntu 18.04 it’s an LTS (Long-Term Support) version, which Canonical will support for the next five years with software and security updates, it’s more than a wallpaper contest.

            Well, of course, it’s not a contest, because you won’t win any prize besides the fact that your work will be showcased to millions of Ubuntu users worldwide. This time, besides wallpapers, Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase also looks for new video and music files that will be available in the Examples folder of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS’ live installation medium.

          • Introducing the Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase for 18.04

            Ubuntu’s changed a lot in the last year, and everything is leading up to a really exciting event: the release of 18.04 LTS! This next version of Ubuntu will once again offer a stable foundation for countless humans who use computers for work, play, art, relaxation, and creation. Among the various visual refreshes of Ubuntu, it’s also time to go to the community and ask for the best wallpapers. And it’s also time to look for a new video and music file that will be waiting for Ubuntu users on the install media’s Examples folder, to reassure them that their video and sound drivers are quite operational.

            Long-term support releases like Ubuntu 18.04 LTS are very important, because they are downloaded and installed ten times more often than every single interim release combined. That means that the wallpapers, video, and music that are shipped will be seen ten times more than in other releases. So artists, select your best works. Ubuntu enthusiasts, spread the word about the contest as far and wide as you can. Everyone can help make this next LTS version of Ubuntu an amazing success.

          • Ubuntu Core: A secure open source OS for IoT

            Canonical’s Ubuntu Core, a tiny, transactional version of the Ubuntu Linux OS for IoT devices, runs highly secure Linux application packages, known as “snaps,” that can be upgraded remotely.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Lubuntu 17.04 has reached End of Life

              The Lubuntu Team announces that as a non-LTS release, 17.04 has a 9-month support cycle and, as such, reached end of life on Saturday, January 13, 2018. Lubuntu will no longer provide bug fixes or security updates for 17.04, and we strongly recommend that you update to 17.10, which continues to be actively supported with security updates and select high-impact bug fixes.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Source turns 20

    While open source software is ubiquitous, recognized across industries as a fundamental infrastructure component as well as a critical factor for driving innovation, the “open source” label was coined only 20 years ago.

    The concept of open source software – as opposed to free software or freeware – is credited to Netscape which, in January 1998, announced plans to release the source code of its proprietary browser, Navigator, under a license that would freely permit modification and redistribution. This code is today the basis for Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird.

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) regards that event as the point at which “software freedom extended its reach beyond the enthusiast community and began its ascent into the mainstream”.

  • Coreboot 4.7 Released With 47 More Motherboards Supported, AMD Stoney Ridge

    Coreboot 4.7 is now available as the latest release of this free and open-source BIOS/UEFI replacement.

    Coreboot 4.7 is the latest tagged release for this project developed via Git. This release has initial support for AMD Stoney Ridge platforms, Intel ICH10 Southbridge support, Intel Denverton/Denverton-NS platform support, and initial work on supporting next-gen Intel Cannonlake platforms.

  • Google’s Kelsey Hightower talks Kubernetes and community

    Google developer advocate Kelsey Hightower says that he always figured that the (now wildly successful) Kubernetes container orchestration platform “would get big on its own at some point.” He shared some of the reasons he sees for Kubernetes’ success in a podcast recorded in December at CloudNativeCon in Austin.

    The first is that Kubernetes is an effective platform on which to do other things. It provides “better primitives than I had before” as Hightower puts it. At the same time, he says that this is something people misunderstand about Kubernetes. “It’s not the end game,” he says. Rather, at some point, it increasingly becomes “the new platform for building other platforms.”

  • A FOSS Year Resolution

    It’s that time of year again. The time when some people are taking a long hard look at their lives and trying to decide what they want to change about themselves over the course of the next year. Some of us want to lose weight, or exercise more, or spend more time with our kids. The trouble is only about 9% of these resolutions actually happen.

  • Events
    • Dr. Lovesource: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the open

      I used to write code. I don’t anymore. There are lots of reasons for this, including the fact that I wasn’t very good at it. To clarify, I was, I think, good at writing code,1 but I wasn’t very good at writing code.2 It turns out that I’m quite good at a variety of other things, so my career3 moved in a different direction—or, in fact, a variety of different directions. After a number of roles ranging from “Electronic Information Controller” to “Product and Programme4 Manager” through software engineering and pre-sales, I finally settled into something called “architecture.” Which means that I mainly draw boxes and lines on whiteboards and expect people who are very good at writing code to make the boxes “real.”

    • Thank you CUSEC!

      Last week, I spoke at CUSEC (Canadian Undergraduate Software Engineering Conference) in Montreal. I really enjoy speaking with students and learning what they are working on. They are the future of our industry! I was so impressed by the level of organization and the kindness and thoughtfulness of the CUSEC organizing committee who were all students from various universities across Canada. I hope that you all are enjoying some much needed rest after your tremendous work in the months approaching the conference and last week.

    • Percona Announces Sneak Peek of Conference Breakout Sessions for Seventh Annual Percona Live Open Source Database Conference
    • Do not limit yourself

      The motto of Learn yourself, teach others is still very strong among us. We try to break any such stupid limits others try to force on our lives. We dream, we try to enjoying talking about that book someone just finished. We discuss about our favorite food. I will end this post saying one thing again. Do not bound yourself in some non existing limits. Always remember, What a great teacher, failure is (I hope I quoted Master Yoda properly). Not everything we will try in life will be a super successful thing, but we can always try to learn from those incidents. You don’t have to bow down in front of anyone, you can do things you love in your life without asking for others’ permissions.

    • Benjamin Mako Hill: OpenSym 2017 Program Postmortem

      The International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym, formerly WikiSym) is the premier academic venue exclusively focused on scholarly research into open collaboration. OpenSym is an ACM conference which means that, like conferences in computer science, it’s really more like a journal that gets published once a year than it is like most social science conferences. The “journal”, in iithis case, is called the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Open Collaboration and it consists of final copies of papers which are typically also presented at the conference. Like journal articles, papers that are published in the proceedings are not typically published elsewhere.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Bromite Is the New NoChromo — Open Source Chrome Port with Ad Blocking

        A while back, we told you about NoChromo, a no-root ad-blocking browser based on Google Chrome’s open source code base, Chromium. That browser was wildly successful, as it offered an identical interface to regular Chrome, but without any ads. Sadly, the developer abandoned NoChromo, but a new ad-blocking Chromium port called Bromite has been released to fill its void.

    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 60 Product Integrity Requests Report

        Late last year I was putting out weekly reports on the number of requests Mozilla’s Product Integrity group was receiving and how well we were tracking toward our self-imposed service-level agreement (respond to 90% within 48 hours).

        The initial system we set up was only ever intended to be minimally viable and has not scaled well, although that’s probably to be expected. There’s been quite a lot of growing pains so I’ve been tasked with taking it to the next level.

      • Tab Warming: How Firefox Will Improve Web Browsing Experience? How To Get It Now?

        Mozilla developer Mike Conley described the details about Tab Warming in a post on his personal blog. It will improve tab switching by pre-loading the contents of a tab before it gets displayed in front of the users.

      • NVDA and Firefox 58 – The team is regaining strength

        A week before the Firefox 57 “Quantum” release in November, I published an Article detailing some bits to be aware of when using Firefox and the NVDA screen reader together. In Firefox 58, due on January 23, 2018, the reliable team is regaining strength in playing well together and offering you good and fast web accessibility.

        After the Firefox 57 release, due to many changes under the hood, NVDA and Firefox temporarily lapsed in performance. Statistics quickly showed that about two thirds of the NVDA user base stayed with us despite of this. So to all of you who stuck with us on this difficult release: Thank you! Many of the others moved to the extended support release of Firefox 52. Thank you to those of you as well, you decided to stick with Firefox! Also, statistics show that barely any of those of you who stuck with 57 decided to turn off multi-process Firefox, but instead used the new technology, and some of you even reported problems to us.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • The Universal Donor

      A few people reacted negatively to my article on why Public Domain software is broadly unsuitable for inclusion in a community open source project. Most argued that because public domain gave them the rights they need where they live (mostly the USA), I should not say it was wrong to use it.

      That demonstrates either parochialism or a misunderstanding of what public domain really means. It should not be used for the same reason code known to be subject to software patents should not be used — namely that only code that, to the best efforts possible, can be used by anyone, anywhere without the need to ask permission (e.g. by buying a patent license) or check it it’s needed (e.g. is that PD code PD here?) can be used in an open source project. Public domain fails the test for multiple reasons: global differences in copyright term, copyright as an unalienable moral rather than as a property right, and more.

      Yes, public domain may give you the rights you need. But in an open source project, it’s not enough for you to determine you personally have the rights you need. In order to function, every user and contributor of the project needs prior confidence they can use, improve and share the code, regardless of their location or the use to which they put it. That confidence also has to extend to their colleagues, customers and community as well.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC 8.0 Moves On To Only Regression/Documentation Fixes

      The GCC 8 compiler is on to its last stage of development

    • Retpoline-enabled GCC

      There will be upstream backports at least to GCC 7, but probably pretty far back (I’ve seen people talk about all the way to 4.3). So you won’t have to run my crappy home-grown build for very long—it’s a temporary measure.

      Oh, and it made Stockfish 3% faster than with GCC 6.3! Hooray.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Nokia, Optus seal 5-year network deal

    Under the deal, Nokia will provide network operations and software services, and deploy robotics, artificial intelligence and extreme automation to help Optus standardise and scale its operations, while Nokia Field Services will manage all components of work associated with mobile base station equipment and facilities.

  • Science
    • Pollution is endangering the future of astronomy

      Three sources of pollution — space debris, radio interference and light pollution — already are particularly worrisome. And the situation is getting worse.

    • Novel 3-D printing technique yields high-performance composites

      Since ancient civilizations first combined straw and mud to form bricks, people have fabricated engineered composites of increasing performance and complexity. But reproducing the exceptional mechanical properties and complex microstructures found in nature has been challenging.

    • Blood-vessel-on-a-chip provides insight into new anti-inflammatory drug candidate

      One of the most important and fraught processes in the human body is inflammation. Inflammatory responses to injury or disease are crucial for recruiting the immune system to help the body heal, but inflammation can also cause an increase in the production of thrombin, which can lead to dangerous blood clots and other conditions. Activated protein C (APC) is a naturally occurring anti-coagulant protein with anti-inflammatory and other protective effects that has been used medically to treat severe blood infections and wounds; however, its use is limited because its inhibition of thrombin also impacts the blood’s ability to clot, increasing bleeding risk.

    • Device creates negative mass—and a novel way to generate lasers
    • Light may unlock a new quantum dance for electrons in graphene

      A team of researchers has devised a simple way to tune a hallmark quantum effect in graphene—the material formed from a single layer of carbon atoms—by bathing it in light. Their theoretical work, which was published recently in Physical Review Letters , suggests a way to realize novel quantum behavior that was previously predicted but has so far remained inaccessible in experiments.

      “Our idea is to use light to engineer these materials in place,” says Tobias Grass, a postdoctoral researcher at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) and a co-author of the paper. “The big advantage of light is its flexibility. It’s like having a knob that can change the physics in your sample.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Suppressing a sneeze can be dangerous, doctors warn

      Stifling a sneeze can rupture your throat, burst an ear drum, or pop a blood vessel in your brain, researchers warned on Tuesday.

      Many people – when they feel a sneeze coming on – block all the exits, essentially swallowing the sneeze’s explosive force.

      Just how dangerous this can be was illustrated when a 34-year-old man showed up at the emergency service of a hospital in Leicester, England recently, with a swollen neck and in extreme pain.

    • Trump’s new assistant Drug Czar: a 24-year-old campaign volunteer with no experience, in charge of billions to end the opioid epidemic

      In 2016, Taylor Weyeneth took a break from his studies as an undergrad law student at St John’s University and used the skills he’d acquired organizing a single golf tournament and working in his father’s chia seed factory (closed abruptly when his father went to jail for processing illegal Chinese steroids in the plant) to campaign for Donald Trump. Now Weyeneth, at 24 years old, is the deputy chief of staff for Office of National Drug Control Policy, in charge of billions of dollars in spending to curb the opioid epidemic and fight illegal drug use.

    • Peruvian herders use ancient technology to manage water for the future

      Dams, canals, and reservoirs dating back 3,000 years ago are being revived by alpine herders in partnership with The Mountain Institute in order to more efficiently manage water for pastures and animals.

    • Global drugmakers complain over violations of patent rights in Russia

      Multinational drugmakers operating in Russia have filed a complaint with the Russian Federal Antimonopoly…

  • Security
    • Beware! Fake Spectre & Meltdown Patches Are Infecting PCs With “Smoke Loader” Malware [Ed: Welcome to Microsoft Windows]

      One of the most common tactics employed by notorious cybercriminals involves taking advantage of the popular trends and creating fraudulent websites/apps to trick users. It looks like some of the players have tried to exploit the confusion surrounding Meltdown and Sprectre CPU bugs.

      Forget buggy updates which are causing numerous problems to the users, Malwarebytes has spotted a fake update package that installs malware on your computer. The firm has identified a new domain that’s full of material on how Meltdown and Spectre affect CPUs.

      [...]

      The fake file in the archive is Intel-AMD-SecurityPatch-10-1-v1.exe.

    • An update on ongoing Meltdown and Spectre work

      Last week, a series of critical vulnerabilities called Spectre and Meltdown were announced. Because of the nature of these issues, the solutions are complex and requires fixing delicate code. The fixes for Meltdown are mostly underway. The Meltdown fix for x86 is KPTI. KPTI has been merged into the mainline Linux tree and many stable trees, including the ones Fedora uses. Fixes for other arches are close to being done and should be available soon. Fixing Spectre is more difficult and requires fixes across multiple areas.

      Similarly to Meltdown, Spectre takes advantage of speculation done by CPUs. Part of the fix for Spectre is disallowing the CPU to speculate in particular vulnerable sequences. One solution developed by Google and others is to introduce “retpolines” which do not allow speculation. A sequence of code that might allow dangerous speculation is replaced with a “retpoline” which will not speculate. The difficult part of this solution is that the compiler needs to be aware of where to place a retpoline. This means a complete solution involves the compiler as well.

    • CPU microcode update code for amd64
    • Using a Yubikey for GPG and SSH
    • Inspect curl’s TLS traffic

      Since a long time back, the venerable network analyzer tool Wireshark (screenshot above) has provided a way to decrypt and inspect TLS traffic when sent and received by Firefox and Chrome.

    • Mageia Weekly Roundup 2018 – Week 2

      The year is definitely under way, with an astonishing 412 packages coming through commits – mostly for cauldron, but a few are the last remaining updates for Mageia 5, as well as important security updates for Mageia 6.

      Among those updates are all the kernel and microcode updates – our thanks to tmb and our untiring devs for these – to begin hitting Meltdown and Spectre on the head.

      A big hand for the upstream kernel team, as well as our own packagers, QA testers and everyone else that was involved in getting this tested and released.

    • Fedora Project Continues to Work on Mitigating Meltdown & Spectre Security Flaws
    • Black Lab Enterprise Linux Distro Gets Patches Against Meltdown and Spectre Bugs
    • Linspire and Freespire Linux OSes Now Patched Against Meltdown and Spectre Flaws
    • Gentoo-Based Porteus Kiosk 4.6 Linux OS Released with Meltdown and Spectre Fixes

      orteus Linux developer Tomasz Jokiel announced today the release and immediate availability for download of the Porteus Kiosk 4.6.0 Gentoo Linux-based operating system.

      Including all the upstream security and software updates from the Gentoo Linux repositories as of January 14, 2018, Porteus Kiosk 4.6.0 is powered by the Linux 4.14.13 kernel and includes the Mozilla Firefox 52.5.3 ESR and Google Chrome 63.0.3239.132 web browsers, protecting users against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that have been publicly disclosed earlier this month.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Secure Contexts Everywhere

      Since Let’s Encrypt launched, the Secure Contexts specification has become much more mature. We have witnessed the successful restriction of existing, as well as new features to secure contexts. The W3C TAG is about to drastically raise the bar to ship features on insecure contexts. All the building blocks are now in place to quicken the adoption of HTTPS and secure contexts, and follow through on our intent to deprecate non-secure HTTP.

    • Linux and Windows Servers Targeted with RubyMiner Malware

      Security researchers have spotted a new strain of malware being deployed online. Named RubyMiner, this malware is a cryptocurrency miner spotted going after outdated web servers.

      According to research published by Check Point and Certego, and information received by Bleeping Computer from Ixia, attacks started on January 9-10, last week.

    • Virtual currency miners target web servers with malware
    • ZAP provides automated security tests in continuous integration pipelines

      Commonly, a mixture of open source and expensive proprietary tools are shoehorned into a pipeline to perform tests on nightly as well as ad hoc builds. However, anyone who has used such tests soon realizes that the maturity of a smaller number of time-honored tests is sometimes much more valuable than the extra detail you get by shoehorning too many tests into the pipe then waiting three hours for a nightly build to complete. The maturity of your battle-hardened tests is key.

    • BitTorrent users beware: Flaw lets hackers control your computer

      There’s a critical weakness in the widely used Transmission BitTorrent app that allows websites to execute malicious code on some users’ computers. That’s according to a researcher with Google’s Project Zero vulnerability reporting team, who also warns that other BitTorrent clients are likely similarly susceptible.

      [...]

      Among the things an attacker can do is change the Torrent download directory to the user’s home directory. The attacker could then command Transmission to download a Torrent called “.bashrc” which would automatically be executed the next time the user opened a bash shell. Attackers could also remotely reconfigure Transmission to run any command of their choosing after a download has completed. Ormandy said the exploit is of “relatively low complexity, which is why I’m eager to make sure everyone is patched.”

    • AMD Releases Linux and Windows Patches for Two Variants of Spectre Vulnerability

      AMD has published a press announcement on Thursday to inform its customers that it released patches for two variants of the Spectre security vulnerability disclosed to the public earlier this month.

    • ‘Shift Left’: Codifying Intuition into Secure DevOps

      Continuous delivery (CD) is becoming the cornerstone of modern software development, enabling organizations to ship — in small increments — new features and functionality to customers faster to meet market demands. CD is achieved by applying DevOps practices and principles (continuous integration and continuous deployment) from development to operations. There is no continuous delivery without implementing DevOps practices and principles. By that, I mean strong communication and collaboration across teams, and automation across testing, build, and deployment pipelines. But often achieving continuous delivery to meet market demands presents numerous challenges for security.

    • Purism patches Meltdown and Spectre variant 2, both included in all new Librem laptops

      Purism has released a patch for Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754, aka variant 3) as part of PureOS, and includes this latest PureOS image as part of all new Librem laptop shipments. Purism is also providing a microcode update for Intel processors to address Spectre variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715).

    • Intel Fumbles Its Patch for Chip Flaw

      Intel is quietly advising some customers to hold off installing patches that address new security flaws affecting virtually all of its processors. It turns out the patches had bugs of their own.

    • Wi-Fi Alliance announces WPA3 to secure modern networks

      The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is an odd place to announce an enterprise product, but the Wi-Fi Alliance used the massive trade show — which has more or less taken over where Comdex left off — to announce a major upgrade to Wi-Fi security.

      The alliance announced the Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3), a new standard of Wi-Fi security that greatly increases the security capabilities of the wireless standard. WPA2, which is the current standard in wireless security, has been around for 14 years, so this is way overdue.

    • More iOS 11 Jailbreak Tweaks Could Be Released by the Weekend

      The Electra jailbreak tool is better than LiberiOS because it comes with Substitute. This is the alternative to Cydia substrate that was first developed by Comex. This would allow users to install and use jailbreak tweaks compatible to iOS 11.

    • Hospital [sic] sent offline as hackers infect systems with ransomware, demand payment [iophk: "Windows"]
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #142
    • Spectre and Meltdown patches causing trouble as realistic attacks get closer

      Applications, operating systems, and firmware all need to be updated to defeat Meltdown and protect against Spectre, two attacks that exploit features of high-performance processors to leak information and undermine system security. The computing industry has been scrambling to respond after news of the problem broke early a few days into the new year.

      But that patching is proving problematic. The Meltdown protection is revealing bugs or otherwise undesirable behavior in various drivers, and Intel is currently recommending that people cease installing a microcode update it issued to help tackle the Spectre problem. This comes as researchers are digging into the papers describing the issues and getting closer to weaponizing the research to turn it into a practical attack. With the bad guys sure to be doing the same, real-world attacks using this research are sure to follow soon.

    • Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

      new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.

      F-Secure said in a statement that the flaw had nothing to do with the “Spectre” and “Meltdown” vulnerabilities recently found in the micro-chips that are used in almost all computers, tablets and smartphones today.

      Rather, it was an issue within Intel Active Management Technology (AMT), “which is commonly found in most corporate laptops, (and) allows an attacker to take complete control over a user’s device in a matter of seconds,” the cybersecurity firm said.

    • What is RubyMiner? New malware found targeting Windows and Linux servers to mine cryptocurrency
    • BitTorrent flaw could let hackers take control of Windows, Linux PCs

      According to Project Zero, the client is vulnerable to a DNS re-binding attack that effectively tricks the PC into accepting requests via port 9091 from malicious websites that it would (and should) ordinarily ignore.

    • BitTorrent critical flaw allows hackers to remotely control users’ computers

      A critical flaw in the popular Transmission BitTorrent app could allow hackers to remotely control users’ computers. The flaw, uncovered by Google Project Zero security researchers, allows websites to execute malicious code on users’ devices. Researchers also warned that BitTorrent clients could be susceptible to attacks as well if the flaw is leveraged.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Army Strategist Exposes The Disturbing Parallels Between US Domestic Policing & Military Tactics Abroad

      Nonetheless, take a moment to consider the ways in which counterinsurgency abroad and urban policing at home might, in these years, have come to resemble each other and might actually be connected phenomena

    • There are indicators of one other India-China border spat

      India considers Arunachal Pradesh, lying east of Bhutan, to be one of its 29 states, but China claims the area as part of southern Tibet. The territory, a key focus of a 1962 war fought between the Asian giants, lies along the Sino-Indian border, which is represented by a demarcation line called the Line of Actual Control.

    • The Pope welcomes Sunni migrants while Sunni Islamists seek to cleanse Egypt, Iraq, and Syria of Christians

      Even when the Pope went to Bangladesh and Myanmar he failed to mention the plight of Buddhists and Hindus throughout history and the ongoing reality of mass Bengali Muslim migration that is overwhelming indigenous Buddhists and Hindus in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Likewise, in Rakhine, it seems that the deaths of Buddhists, Hindus, the Mro, and others, in this part of Myanmar don’t count to the current Pope – and the same applies to other Christian denominations and the mass media.

    • From Pakistan with hate: Hindus murdered, converted, forced to flee

      “Families of weaker communities specially Meghwals which comprise 40% of the town’s population are the most vulnerable ones. Young girls are kidnapped and forced to marry Muslims in this village and Saeed’s outfit provide financial help to the perpetrators,” said Rajesh Maheshwari (name changed), who had fled from Mithi leaving behind all his fortune.

    • Isis executioner who threw gay men off buildings bribed his way out of prison in ‘minutes’

      Human rights watch group the Clarion Project described the escape as a “remarkable failure of the Iraqi justice system – [an] Isis religious leader was arrested and released just minutes later after paying a $7,500 [£5,500] bribe.”

    • Finland: Police investigate gay politician once again for posting about Islam…….

      The trial of Finns party chairman, Jussi Halla-aho, cemented the fact that in Finland, truth is not a defense, that in Finland, we have lost the fundamental right to not only defend ourselves, but to speak our minds.

    • Investigation claims terror suspect visited Glasgow to ‘call for jihadis’

      The Times say a BBC documentary may have uncovered proof that Hafiz Saeed visited Scotland in the years before 9/11 and ‘called for jihad’ while speaking at a mosque in Glasgow.

    • Yazidi Children Rescued From IS Getting Psychological Help

      At Qadiya refugee camp near the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s northern city of Duhok, more than 100 Yazidi boys and girls aged between 4 and 13, who were kidnapped by IS in August 2014, are getting assistance to recover from the psychological harm they sustained under IS control.

    • In North Korea Talks, Tillerson Needs Women at the Negotiating Table

      Secretary Rex Tillerson will be sitting at a table with 20 foreign ministersTuesday discussing how to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. These ministers were chosen due to their nations involvement in the Korean War, not their expertise in North Korea. In fact, many of them have never even stepped foot in North Korea.

      Across the street, at the same time, I, along with an international delegation of 16 women representing feminist peace movements from Asia, Europe, and North America, will convene to share their experience, knowledge, and wisdom garnered by working towards achieving peace and genuine security on the Korean Peninsula.

      Drawing upon their collective expertise on militarism, nuclear disarmament, economic sanctions, and the human, social, and ecological costs of the unresolved 65-year Korean War, the delegation will recommend steps that can ensure a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. And yet, we can be sure no one at the official table will ever hear what we have to say.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The Assange standoff

      The ongoing standoff with the UK has revealed as much. There is no other wanted individual – who lives within plain sight – on whom over $11 million dollars spent in constant police presence in case he tries to escape. When the rape investigation was shut in May 2017 by Swedish investigations, there was hope that Assange could finally leave the UK. That hope was dissipated with the UK government insisting that he was still a wanted man for evading bail conditions. For the last six months, the UK government has kept the same position, despite Ecuador offering a way out by offering Assange diplomatic status as an Ecuadorian citizen. On its part, Ecuador itself has found itself frustrated with the standoff, with the new Ecuadorian leadership less enamoured with the WikiLeaks head, who has continued to make headlines with new leaks. With WikiLeaks now declared an official media organisation within the UK, the UK government has enough space for being able to back out of the desire to arrest Assange. It must be noted that the UN has declared this to be involuntary detention. Why the UK government is insisting that Assange must face arrest for violating bail conditions is seen by many activists as a disturbing sign. There are fears are that the US has issued a secret extradition order which the UK government wishes to comply with. Holed up in the Ecuador embassy, Assange is a VIP guest who deserves to have his freedom returned and to be able to continue his work.

    • Assange’s New Citizenship ‘Bad Remedy Which Can Prove Worse Than Illness’– Prof.

      Ecuador has recently granted citizenship to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange – a move which is sure to trigger legal political repercussions in the country, argues Andres Mejia Acosta, a professor of international politics at King’s College London, in an interview to Sputnik.

    • Did FPF Board Members Sell Out to Money and Power?

      When the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) was established at the end of 2012, Wikileaks had already faced a barrage of attacks from both the U.S. and Swedish governments, media outlets and movie studios, former Wikileaks volunteers, and banking and financial services institutions like PayPal, Visa and MasterCard who initiated a financial blockade against Wikileaks in December, 2010. When Julian Assange and John Perry Barlow decided to create the FPF it was in direct response to the blockade which was illegal and eating up most of Wikileaks’ revenue. Surprisingly, after its creation three FPF board members were offered cushy journalism and tech jobs courtesy of Pierre Omidyar whose company, PayPal, was directly involved in the financial blockade. Shockingly, they accepted.

    • Why truth has nothing to do with the WikiLeaks upload of Fire and Fury [Ed: Aussie MSM maintains that idea that Wikileaks -- by promoting an anti-Trump book -- is actually helping Trump. How laughable.]

      If ever evidence was needed that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have lost their bearings, it was their recent action in releasing a free download of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury that should have made their state plain to everyone. There was nothing noble or principled about this action: it was petty and vindictive, done to reduce paid sales of the book, and therefore to deny the author and his publisher some income from it.

      It spoke of Assange’s continuing alignment with Donald Trump and his administration, and of his hostility to the Democrats. It may even have been an attempt to curry further favour with Trump, given that Assange is still desperately trying to avoid the risk of being shipped by a third country to America, where he faces serious legal proceedings.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Warming ocean water is turning 99 percent of these sea turtles female

      The sex ratio in the overall population is “nothing out of the ordinary,” with roughly one juvenile male for every four juvenile females, says study coauthor Michael Jensen, a marine biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in La Jolla, Calif. But breaking the data down by the turtles’ region of origin revealed worrisome results. In the cooler southern Great Barrier Reef, 67 percent of hatched juveniles were female. But more than 99 percent of young turtles hatched in sand soaked by warmer waters in the northern Great Barrier Reef were female — with one male for every 116 females. That imbalance has increased over time: 86 percent of the adults born in the area more than 20 years ago were female.

    • Elephants are irreplaceable seed dispersers

      Wild animals play specific roles in the ecosystem, but what happens when they disappear? Using a combination of field data and theoretical modelling, scientists find that no herbivore can replace Indian elephants as the optimal seed dispersers of three large forest trees in West Bengal.

    • When wildlife conservation meets war

      The researchers from 2016 concluded that we need better, more fine-grained data on the impacts of conflict, and a new paper in this week’s Nature drills into historical data to provide just that. Authors Joshua H. Daskin and Robert M. Pringle report that “even low-grade, infrequent conflict is sufficient” to cause harm to wildlife. But they also conclude that the mere presence of conflict doesn’t mean that the wildlife in that region should be written off.

    • In early push into Papua, palm oil firms set stage for massive forest plunder

      All of this has been allowed to happen with the blessing of the government, which is already resented by much of the Papuan population following decades of exploitation of the region’s riches with little of that wealth being invested back into the community. Papua and West Papua today have the highest levels of poverty in Indonesia and score lowest on human development parameters such as education, literacy, and maternal and infant mortality.

    • Cargill takes rare step of cutting business with Guatemalan palm oil supplier

      In late November, Cargill suspended business with Reforestadora de Palmas del Petén S.A. (REPSA), saying it would not enter any new purchase contracts until the Guatemalan company can meet the “requirements of our sustainable palm oil policy,” said a Cargill review laying out the decision.

    • Coral reefs head for ‘knock-out punch’

      A study of 100 reefs, published in Science Magazine, shows the interval between bleaching events in recent decades has shortened dramatically.

      It has gone from once every 25-30 years in the early 1980s to an average of just once every six years today.

      Bleaching is caused by anomalously warm water, which prompts coral polyps to eject their symbiotic algae.

    • Study: Honeybees’ Attraction to Fungicide ‘Unsettling’ for Food Output

      Tests carried out by a team from the University of Illinois showed bees preferred to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone.

    • Quarter of British honey contaminated with bee-harming pesticides, research reveals

      Although the contamination rate has fallen from a half since a partial EU ban the insecticides remain in the farmed environment posing a serious risk to bees

    • Accidental Discovery Could Save Bees From Their Greatest Threat

      German scientists primarily based out of the University of Hoffenheim have stumbled upon a simple solution that could deal a blow to honeybees’ greatest threat. They’ve found that a tiny dose of the compound lithium chloride kills Varroa destructor mites without harming bees.

      The scientists detailed their incredible findings in the January 12th publication of Scientific Reports.

    • The Buzz Fades

      Under-resourced in an overworked agricultural system, honeybee colonies are gradually failing in most temperate regions.

    • California’s Owls Being Exposed to Rat Poison

      Researchers suspect the source of the toxins may be some of the state’s 50,000 or so marijuana farms.

    • Trump’s offshore oil drilling plans ignore the lessons of BP Deepwater Horizon

      Our panel concluded that the immediate cause of the blowout was a series of identifiable mistakes by BP, the company drilling the well; Halliburton, which cemented the well; and Transocean, the drill ship operator. We wrote that these mistakes revealed “such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.” The root causes for these mistakes included regulatory failures.

    • On its 100th birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming

      And so, at its hundredth birthday party, American oil was warned of its civilization-destroying potential.

    • World could run out of chocolate by 2050 but there might be a way to save it

      The cacao plant responsible for producing these seeds is having trouble surviving and is likely to become extinct in the next 40 years, according to a report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

      These plants grow in very specific conditions and areas – within 10 degrees north and south of the equator – featuring nitrogen-rich soil, lots of humidity and abundant rainfall. Typically, more than half of the world’s chocolate comes from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia.

    • Five demands for climate change justice

      Two years on from the Paris Agreement, what should governments be doing to take climate change seriously?

      In the run-up to the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement and in parallel to the UN Climate Convention in Bonn, climate justice campaigners and lawyers from six continents met to co-ordinate five clear legal demands for local, regional and national governments.

    • Expect EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s reckless spending to continue in 2018

      Regarding EPA, and according to this White House, fossil fuel energy lobbyists are in, and federal scientists and engineers are out.

    • The terrible power of plastic is that it quickly becomes useless but never goes away

      It isn’t just plastic, of course. Broken glass and rusted metal are also common landscape pollution, but plastic is the ugliest; the terrible power of plastic is that it quickly becomes useless but never goes away.

    • Iceland supermarket chain aims to be plastic free by 2023

      Supermarket chain Iceland has said it will eliminate or drastically reduce plastic packaging of all its own-label products by the end of 2023.

      Iceland says the move will affect more than a thousand own-label products.

      New ranges will be packaged using a paper-based tray, rather than plastic.

      It follows recent outcries over the packaging of cauliflower “steaks” and coconuts, and Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet programme, which showed vivid images of plastic pollution.

    • Wild Whale Rushes To Save Diver From Giant Shark

      Back in October, Hauser was diving off near the Cook Islands, in the South Pacific, with a camera crew who wanted to film her in the water alongside humpback whales. In an unusually persistent manner, one whale swam right up and began nudging her with his mouth and chin, seemingly trying to tuck her underneath his pectoral fin.

  • Finance
    • Bid to block cryptocurrency regulation in South Korea

      The South Korean Government’s attempts to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies has led to mounting support for a petition seeking to stop the efforts at curbing use of such currencies.

    • The success or failure of Brexit hinges on the next two and a half months

      In terms of Brexit, 2018 starts with a sense of cautious optimism. The confidence and bluster that prevailed in early 2017 was gradually replaced with a conciliatory approach from the UK and the ruling out of a no-deal scenario. But it’s difficult to shake the sense that we’re experiencing the calm before the storm.

      Considering that the next phase of negotiations will not formally begin until late March – when new guidelines will have been discussed by member states and adopted by the European Commission – the actual trade talks will last no longer than six months. The time from autumn 2018 to March 2019 will be put aside for the ratification of the deal by the European parliament, the European Council, and, potentially, member states’ national parliaments.

      This means that, in practice, this next phase of talks will not contain a great level of detail but will cover the ‘framework for the future relationship’ between the UK and the EU, and will therefore be critical.

    • Facebook Execs Sold $4bn in Stock Last Year

      Facebook’s top executives sold company shares worth more than $4bn in 2017, over double the amount of other execs at some of the largest technology firms in the US.

    • Kentucky the first state to fulfill Trump’s vision of a nation of uninsured poor people

      Remember when Kentucky was the big success story, along with Arkansas, in healthcare? When it was leading the nation in reducing the number of uninsured people? Well, thanks to the Republican takeover of the governorship there and the White House, that’s all over now. So’s the $820 million the state was expected to save by 2021 in reducing the number of uninsured and making full use of the Medicaid expansion funds available to it.

      On Friday, Kentucky’s Republican governor Matt Bevin was granted a waiver by Trump’s Department Health and Human Services, allowing him to impose new work requirements on people receiving or applying for Medicaid in his state.

    • The three-stage plan to stop Brexit

      In early June 2016, a few weeks before the EU referendum, the board members of the Stronger In campaign sat around a table to discuss how the campaign was going. As usual we were presented with evidence from polling and focus groups showing that ‘swing voters’ would respond to warnings about the financial impact of Brexit on their lives. On polling day, people wouldn’t vote against their own self-interest, we were assured.

      But they did.

      As the post-referendum months roll by, and the stark reality of what Brexit means becomes increasingly clear, we’re given almost daily reminders of the profound failure of the Remain campaign to tell a story convincing enough to persuade people to vote against economic disaster. The Brexit vote has already cost the UK economy £300m a week. Food prices are growing at their fastest rate in four years. Inflation is over three per cent for the first time in nearly six years. Applications from EU nurses to work in the UK have fallen by 89% since the referendum.

    • What next for Labour’s factions?

      As expected, the Momentum slate swept the board again at Labour’s NEC elections. This means they now hold all nine constituency positions as well as controlling other internal bodies such as the Conference Arrangements Committee. It all sounds incredibly boring, largely because, for the most part, it is.

      You have to be a truly dedicated political activist to care much about internal elections. Even party members don’t very much, which is why turnout (other than for leadership contests) is always so low. You will probably hear a lot from the losing factions about turnout numbers, but then you always do. Whoever happens to be the losing faction at that time will always make that argument. When they start winning again they’ll do naff-all to change it.

      [...]

      I suspect deselections will turn out to be a damp squib with a few symbolic victories but not enough to truly alter the overall shape of the Parliamentary party or more than a handful of councils. But opening up policy-making to the membership may well come back to haunt a leadership that finds itself at odds with their most enthusiastic supporters over Brexit.

    • Britain can still stop Brexit and change its mind, EU Council President Donald Tusk declares

      Donald Tusk made the startling comments just days after a shock poll found Remain would win by 10 points in a re-run of the EU referendum .

      He told MEPs in Strasbourg: “If the UK Government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality – with all its negative consequences – in March next year unless there is a change of heart among our British friends.

      “Wasn’t it David Davis himself who said ‘if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy’?”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • A brief history of how the rich world brutalized and looted Haiti, a country the US owes its very existence to

      Haiti (then called Saint-Domingue) was France’s most brutal, most profitable colony, a tiny island that supplied 75% of the world’s sugar, sending more wealth to France than the all 13 of the original US colonies combined.

    • Without Haiti, the United States Would, in Fact, Be a Shithole
    • Sweden to create new authority tasked with countering disinformation

      The new “psychological defence” (psykologiskt försvar) authority was announced by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven during his speech at the annual ‘Folk och försvar’ security conference in Sälen. It is based on a proposal by the cross-party parliamentary Defence Commission (Försvarsberedningen).

    • Reps. Maxine Waters and John Lewis Are Boycotting Trump’s State of the Union Speech

      President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address is scheduled to take place on January 30, 2018, but several notable politicians will not be in attendance. As noted by The Hill, Rep. Maxine Waters (D), Rep. John Lewis (D), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) have all vowed to boycott Trump’s speech — and there are likely to be more names to follow.

      On Friday, January 12, Waters appeared on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, where she explained her decision to stay home from the event. “Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar?” she said, referring to the many statements Trump has said that are proven to be false. “Someone who lies in the face of facts, someone who can change their tune day in and day out. What does he have to say that I would be interested in?” Waters added that she doesn’t trust or appreciate Trump, adding that he “does not deserve my attention.”

    • Facebook’s Adam Mosseri on Why You’ll See Less Video, More From Friends

      Facebook on Thursday announced sweeping changes to the way it plans to manage the newsfeed, the front door to the service for its 2 billion monthly users. Under the new regime, Facebook says users will see more content from friends and family, and less from brands and publishers. The new algorithm also will favor content that draws a lot of comments over posts that are popular, but don’t elicit comments.

    • I was Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor. Today I would tell him: your users are in peril

      Users can have significant influence on internet companies, but only if they stop using the platform. More than 2 billion people worldwide use social media; two-thirds of them use Facebook every day. A scary percentage of smartphone owners exhibit signs of addiction. They can’t quit.

    • Democrats and the End(s) of Politics

      The Democrats’ failure of political understanding regarding Mr. Trump isn’t that voters are crass (deplorable?) but rather that conflating technocracy with intelligence and sophistication confuses style with substance. Donald Trump is the prototypical, iconic if you will, beneficiary of the national Democrats’ policies. As was said of George W. Bush, Mr. Trump was born on third base but believes he hit a home run. But if he is undeserving of the Democrats’ largesse, who precisely, are the deserving kleptocrats?

    • South Africa to formally protest Trump’s ‘s—hole’ comment

      South Africa is planning to formally protest President Trump’s reported remarks referring to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “shithole countries.”

      South Africa’s government on Monday is expected to issue a diplomatic protest to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, CNN reported.

      “The Department will provide an opportunity to the Charges de Affaires to explain the statement that African countries, alongside Haiti and El Salvador, constitute ‘shitholes’ from where migrants into the United States are undesirable,” the South African Department of International Relations said in a statement.

    • Warren-Sanders Democrats vs Oprah: “One billionaire president in a decade is going to be plenty for us”
    • Norwegians suffer from desperate shortage of parking, will come to America in droves

      The President of the United States, discussing immigration, recently said “We should have more people from Norway.” This is a wonderful gesture; he must have been spending his executive time watching the shocking Streetfilms documentary Oslo: The Journey to Car-free and learned about the tragic destruction of parking spaces there.

    • Intel underfoot: Floor sensors rise as retail data source

      In this photo taken Dec. 5, 2017, Scanalytics co-founder and CEO Joe Scanlin holds a smart floor sensor his company creates that track people’s movements in Milwaukee. The sensors are among the tools retailers are using to gain insights on consumer habits.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Hardline Muslims Rally Outside Facebook’s Indonesian HQ
    • Narayanganj man held for posting images defaming Quran on Facebook
    • Facebook: Championing Blasphemy Laws
    • Activist detained in Lahore to prevent her from commemorating Salman Taseer

      The agents prevented her from organising a prayer vigil to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the assassination of Salman Taseer, a Punjab governor killed by his bodyguard in 2011 for defending Asia Bibi and challenging the “black law” on blasphemy.

    • Maldives activist ‘fears for life’ amid blasphemy investigation

      Shahindha Ismail, executive director of Maldives Democracy Network (MDN), told Al Jazeera that anonymous accounts on Twitter and Facebook have been calling for her death, after a newspaper article and religious scholars accused her of advocating for secularism in the Sunni Muslim state.

    • Publisher Defied Trump to ‘Defend the Principles of the First Amendment’

      “Though your letter provides a basic summary of New York libel law, tellingly, it stops short of identifying a single statement in the book that is factually false or defamatory,” an outside lawyer for Henry Holt wrote. “Instead, the letter appears to be designed to silence legitimate criticism. This is the antithesis of an actionable libel claim.”

    • Facebook announces major plan to censor news content

      Facebook is currently a major source of news for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. The number of global Facebook users has increased from 100 million in 2008 to more than 2 billion. According to a Pew Research poll last November, 45 percent of Americans use Facebook for news content, more than any other social media platform. It has become a significant mechanism for the organization of protests and the spread of information outside of the control of the major media conglomerates. It is this that Facebook, working closely with the major capitalist states, wants to end.

    • Facebook’s new policy on posts may make ads more expensive

      Facebook’s decision to prioritise posts made by users and their friends over those from publishers and brands is likely to make it more expensive for marketing agencies to push their clients’ products.

    • Palace: No media censorship on Rappler

      THE decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the license to operate of online news organization Rappler because it allegedly violated the Constitution on ownership is not media censorship, Malacanang said on Tuesday.

      Palace spokesman Harry Roque was referring to the SEC ruling that found Rappler in violation of the provision requiring 100 percent Filipino ownership of a mass media entity.

    • SEC revokes Rappler’s registration

      In a blow to press freedom in the Philippines, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked the registration of news organization Rappler allegedly for violating the Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law.

      SEC accused Rappler of violating constitutional restrictions on ownership and control of mass media entities because of funds coming Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar. (READ Rappler’s statement: Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom)

      “The En Banc finds Rappler, Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation, a Mass Media Entity and its alter ego, liable for violating the constitutional and statutory Foreign Equity Restriction in Mass Media, enforceable through laws and rules within the mandate of the commission,” the SEC en banc said in its decision dated January 11 but published on its website Monday, January 15.

    • Facebook blocks sharing of WSWS anti-censorship video

      Facebook has blocked users from sharing a social media video promoting the January 16 online meeting “Organizing resistance to Internet censorship,” featuring World Socialist Web Site International Editorial Board Chairman David North and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges. The initial post of the video, uploaded Friday, cannot be shared by any user. Those who attempt to do so receive an error message that seems to imply a technical failure.

    • ‘Fake news’ law raises censorship concerns in France

      Can a democratic country outlaw fake news?
      France is about to find out, after President Emmanuel Macron ordered a law to quash false information disseminated around electoral campaigns.

      Criticism is pouring in from media advocates, tech experts — and Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT. They say the law smacks of authoritarianism, would be impossible to enforce and is sure to backfire.

    • Commentary: From Fake News to Censorship

      Fake news may be a new term in the realm of politics, but radical animal activists have been using it for years. They sneak onto livestock farms, take undercover video, and then edit it together to tell a story of animal abuse that is not true. With this, they have destroyed the good reputation of many livestock farms, caused serious financial harm, and impacted consumer perception of livestock production. When farmers have tried to get laws passed to stop this tactic, these groups cry censorship and hide behind the first amendment. Yet, now these groups are using censorship as a new weapon against the animal industry.

      The web site TripAdvisor provides ratings and reviews of hotels, resorts, restaurants, cruises, and entertainment destinations. You can even book reservations and tickets to many of these destinations. Starting in 2017 TripAdvisor entered into an alliance with PETA. TripAdvisor is no longer selling tickets for certain attractions that involve animals, such as elephant rides or swimming with dolphins. This obvious move toward censorship comes despite very high ratings for many of these venues. Many animal attractions are rated highly on TripAdvisor, with travelers reporting the conditions firsthand. In fact, TripAdvisor itself awards a number of venues that have elephants rides or swim-with-dolphins activity a “Certificate of Excellence,” which is awarded to attractions that “consistently earn great reviews from travelers.”

    • MOPPAN, censorship board differ on Rahama Sadau ban

      The leadership of Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) Kano state chapter has disagreed with the decision of state censorship board over the fate of the Kannywood actress, Rahama Sadau back into the indigenous Hausa movie industry.

      The board, through its executive director Isma’ila Na’abba Afakalla had last week declared willingness to censor Rahama Sadau’s films in what many perceived as a move towards recalling the ace actress into the industry after her ban about two years ago by MOPPAN.

    • ‘One Piece’ Fans Are Confused About Its Latest Censorship

      Censorship and anime have a complicated history. Over the years, dozens of shows have been altered to suit broadcasting regulations in Japan and abroad, but One Piece fans are a bit puzzled about its latest censorship.

    • Play tells ‘Story’ of censorship, segregation

      The real-life incident Jones based his play on is the stuff of drama. When an Alabama senator demanded that “The Rabbit’s Wedding” by Garth Williams be pulled from all libraries in the state on the grounds that it promoted racial integration—one rabbit is black, the other white—Emily Wheelock Reed, director of the Alabama Public Library Services Division, refused. Instead, she had libraries place the book, intended for children ages 3-7, on their reserve shelves.

      “Alabama Story,” which opens Jan. 18 at San Jose’s City Lights Theater Company, follows the confrontation between Reed and the senator (E.O. Eddins in real life, E.W. Higgins in the play) at subsequent library budget hearings. But Jones also created a parallel fictional story line about Joshua and Lily, a black man and a white woman who were childhood friends and are reunited as adults in 1959, when the Civil Rights Movement was just catching fire in the South.

    • Censorship and Appointment Cause Turmoil in Film and Theatre Communities

      A recent attempt to ban a Croatian film from the national public broadcaster and an appointment in the national theatre have brought numerous reactions.

      Reactions keep coming to an attempt by war veterans’ associations to ban the film “The Ministry of Love” (Ministarstvo Ljubavi) from Croatian Radio Television (HRT), as well as to recent statements given by former Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović, who once again called the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC), which partly financed the film, a clientelist association financed by the citizens who have the right to know which movies are being funded, reports N1 on January 15, 2018.

    • Chinese institute at UMass Boston is accused of promoting censorship

      A group of students, professors, and alumni at UMass Boston has accused a campus academic center with ties to the Chinese government of promoting censorship abroad and undermining human rights and academic freedom.

      The organizer of the objectors said she hopes to convince the university to shut down the campus Confucius Institute altogether.

      “Though marketed as benign language and culture schools, Confucius Institutes use their foothold in prominent academic institutions to influence and steer academic discourse and ultimately take aim to shape public opinion on key political and human rights issues,” the group said in a recent letter to interim Chancellor Barry Mills, asking for a meeting to discuss their concerns.

    • Sir Richard Branson tells Virgin Trains to re-stock Daily Mail after decision criticised as ‘censorship’
    • Richard Branson orders Virgin Trains to restock Daily Mail amid ‘censorship’ accusation
    • Sir Richard Branson tells Virgin Trains to re-stock Daily Mail following ‘censorship’ row
    • PR pros react to Virgin Trains’ reinstatement of Mail: ‘Mature and wise’ – but who really made the decision?
    • Daily Mail to return to Virgin trains after Branson intervenes
    • Sir Richard Branson instructs Virgin Trains to re-stock the Daily Mail after its decision to stop selling the newspaper was blasted as ‘censorship’
    • Virgin Trains will stock Daily Mail newspapers, says Richard Branson in U-turn decision
    • Branson orders UK’s Virgin Trains to re-stock Daily Mail after censorship spat
    • ‘Seen as censorship’: Richard Branson lifts Virgin Trains’ ban on Daily Mail
    • Daily Mail newspaper returns to Virgin Trains after censorship outcry
    • Microsoft and Amazon Enable Censorship Circumvention Tools in Iran. Why Doesn’t Google? [Ed: Stop portraying Microsoft as against censorship. Unlike Google, it appeased China by censoring search!]
    • Statement by Julian Assange opposing Internet censorship will be read at WSWS “Organizing Resistance” Webinar

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has sent the World Socialist Web Site an important statement warning of government and corporate efforts to curtail the democratic exchange of information. He has requested that it be read during the WSWS Webinar, “Organizing Resistance to Internet Censorship.”

    • 6 Tales of Censorship in the Golden Age of Free Speech

      An African American writer calls out racist hate speech—and gets suspended from Facebook. A young adult author watches her unpublished novel ignite a firestorm on Twitter before anyone has even read it. A Muslim civil rights attorney self-censors, and then finds herself hoping that a white man will say what she was thinking. A well-known conservative firebrand suddenly becomes one of the biggest targets of far-right trolls. A Google engineer writes a controversial memo, and instantly becomes a villain to one army of online readers and a hero to another.

    • China disrupts global companies’s web access as censorship bites
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Teacher’s arrest in Louisiana: Another day, another outrage

      The statement by the middle school teacher that “We are doing the work” and “You are making our jobs more difficult” resonates with the daily experiences of working class people in the US and around the world.

      What gives school board officials the right to siphon off resources and shut down protests? Their petty larceny is inspired by far greater larceny, their authoritarian disposition gains sustenance from a broader social environment.

    • Trump’s first year has been the private prison industry’s best

      Here is how the private prison industry fared during Trump’s first year. Today, 65 percent of detainees held by the Department of Homeland Security are housed in privately run facilities. With the administration’s plans to increase the capacity to hold undocumented immigrants behind bars, the private prison industry’s revenues will surely follow suit. And in an unprecedented move, in late 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asked for information from contractors who can provide additional immigration detention space in the interior of the nation, in major cities such as Salt Lake City, Chicago, Detroit and St. Paul, along with an expected request for information on contractors who can provide additional capacity along the southern U.S. border in Texas.

    • In America, prisoners with money can pay their way to a nicer stay

      A collaborative investigation by the Los Angeles Times and the Marshall Project found that for $100 a night, inmates in Seal Beach’s pay-for-stay program had access to “amenities that included flat-screen TVs, a computer room and new beds.” The cost also affords inmates “semi-private rooms, single showers and the ability to… make phone calls whenever they want.” In addition to creature comforts, the program lets those with resources buy their way out of serving time in the Los Angeles and Orange County jails, where overcrowding, violence and inhumane conditions are often baked into every jail sentence.

    • Paying a little extra upfront is better than tipping

      In Australia we don’t tip. And if we do, it’s for excellent service only. And the reason we don’t tip is because we respect hospitality workers and believe they should be paid accordingly. Explaining this concept recently to an American friend, I was met with incredulity. But I’m adamant: a culture of expected tips means you’re hurting the very people you’re intending to help.

    • Justice Is “Justice” When It’s Something Wealthy And Connected People Can Buy

      This leads to unequal justice — to people pleading out just to get out of jail when they can’t pay, even when they aren’t guilty:

    • Official Turkish body said it was OK for girls to marry at 9, claims it was only following Islam

      In an online religious glossary intended for the public released earlier this week, Diyanet, as the body is known, stated that these are the earliest ages for children to reach adolescence, and once the threshold of emotional and physical maturity is crossed, they must be allowed to marry “to save themselves from adultery.”

    • UP: Muslim woman given triple talaq over dowry demand
    • Kerala govt orders closure of Kochi school for promoting, teaching communal content
    • Has rape become a weapon to silence atheists in Bangladesh?

      Nirala rejected both Islamism and Hindutva. She co-administered a secular community blog site which she said was shut down by the Bangladeshi government in 2013 following an irrational demand by Islamist groups for the state to execute all atheist bloggers.

    • HASSAN: Iranian protesters are shunning the hijab – let’s join them

      It is only women who have lived under an oppressive Islamic government who know that true progressives should shun the hijab.

      Islamists and their naive supporters have worked hard to portray the hijab as an Islamic symbol and imposed it on Muslim women wherever there is strict sharia law. Yet it is not a symbol of Islam but of Islamism.

    • Greece is limiting the power of sharia law

      Sharia law has applied to Thrace, a poor northern region home to most of Greek’s Muslim minority, for close to a century. This is down to the 1920 treaty of Sevres, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, sparking population movements between Greece and Turkey; and the 1923 treaty of Lausanne, which recognized the boundary of modern Turkey. The treaties required that Islamic customs and Islamic religious law apply to thousands of Muslims who remained in Greece and suddenly became Greek citizens.

    • French Secularism Is in Crisis. What Does That Mean for Muslim Youth?

      Three years after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, students in the banlieues debate secularism and the state.

    • Free-range kids are the norm in Germany — are American parents over-protective?
    • Where Is West Papua’s Struggle for Independence From Indonesia Headed?
    • Morning Star badge embroils West Papuan activist
    • Saudi Arabia’s Chance to Create a Liberal Kingdom

      On June 17, 2012, Raif was detained on charges that included apostasy, cybercrime and disobeying his father. According to Saudi law, children can be separated from their parents if they are accused of apostasy. I feared that Raif’s father or my family might deprive me the custody of my children. Raif and I decided that I should leave the country to ensure that our children stay with me. Along with my children, I sought asylum in Canada.

      In May 2014, Raif was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, and fined a million Saudi Arabian riyal for creating an online forum for public debate and “insulting” Islam. On Jan. 9, 2015, Raif was struck with 50 lashes in a public square in Jeddah, but the lashing was stopped on medical advice. He remains in prison. Only a pardon from King Salman can get him released.

    • Marriott sacks employee who ‘liked’ Twitter post from Tibet independence group

      Similarly, international fashion brand Zara and medical equipment maker Medtronic were ordered by Shanghai’s internet regulator to update their websites after they too were found to have to referred to Taiwan as a country.

    • Tibetan language campaigner Tashi Wangchuk faces up to 15 years in jail for ‘inciting separatism’

      Tashi Wangchuk, 32, has been detained for nearly two years after being taken away from his home in January 2016, two months after the campaigner spoke to foreign media about his advocacy of Tibetan language education.

    • Nigerian Slaves Beaten, Tied Up With Barbed Wire and Forced to Drink From Toilet in Libya

      The Nigerians, who spent years in Libya trying to buy their way to freedom and across the Mediterranean to Europe, told the BBC how they were raped, starved, beaten and sold as slaves in the war-ravaged country.

    • From former Muslims who became Catholics, and their friends, to His Holiness Pope Francis, about his attitude towards Islam

      Many of us have tried to contact you, on many occasions and for several years, and we have never received the slightest acknowledgement of our letters or requests for meetings. You do not like to beat around the bush, and neither do we, so allow us to say frankly that we do not understand your teaching about Islam [...]

    • Iran Protester Arrested for Taking Off Hijab

      Hailed as sign of liberation amidst silence from feminists on the Left

    • 2 friends who helped Muslim man ‘forcibly convert’ Kerala woman held

      The woman had alleged that Riyaz pretended to be in love with her when she was studying in Bengaluru in 2014 and forced her to convert to Islam and married her.

    • Religious teacher suspended by mosque after arrest on suspicion of inciting child to engage in sexual activity
    • Muslim trainee lawyer beat up girlfriend over fear pregnancy would be revealed

      She added that Mr Imran’s parents, who live in Dubai, told him he had “brought shame to his family and had disowned him” over his relationship with the woman, from Stockton.

    • Ending Mass Incarceration Is a Winner for Politicians

      For decades, politicians competed to see who could push the most draconian criminal justice policies. Jeff Sessions’s announcement this month that he would authorize federal prosecutors to go after pot even in states where it is legal seems ripped straight from that playbook. But the “tough on crime” attorney general may be in for a surprise. In 2018, it turns out, demagoguery about crime no longer packs a political punch. In fact, support for reform may prove to be a sleeper issue in 2018 and 2020.

      This would be a big change. Candidates most prominently began to compete on crime in the tumultuous 1960s. Richard Nixon won with ads showing burning cities and scowling young men, ads crafted by an unknown aide named Roger Ailes. Ronald Reagan launched a “war on drugs.” George H.W. Bush won in 1988 with notorious ads telling the story of Willie Horton, who was allowed out of prison under a weekend furlough program. Bill Clinton in 1992 bragged of his support for the death penalty. These chest-thumping themes were echoed in hundreds of campaigns down the ballot each year.

      Politics driven by fear of crime had direct, destructive social costs. Today, with just under five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has nearly 25 percent of its prisoners. Black communities bear the brunt, with one in four Black men serving time during their lifetimes.

    • Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

      I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

      The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

    • Animal Cruelty Is a Clear Predictor of Future Violence, So Why Are Perpetrators Merely Slapped on the Wrist?

      But on Nov. 28, 2017, Gallagher received a distressingly light sentence, amounting to a mere slap on the wrist. After pleading guilty to felony animal cruelty charges, Gallagher was sentenced to just four months in county jail, plus five years probation and a ban on owning animals for two decades.

      As District Attorney Singas said in response: “These types of inhumane actions against animals are heinous and unjustifiable, and should serve as a rallying cry for the state to finally enhance penalties for those convicted of felony animal abuse.”

      We at the Animal Legal Defense Fund could not agree more. Animal cruelty must be taken more seriously and the penalties should reflect that seriousness. This is both for the sakes of the animal victims and for the safety of our communities more broadly.

    • ‘Ignorant infidels‘ in U.S. could should be ‘pressured‘ to just accept Islam

      The only reason the public knows what was said inside the Nov. 18 conference at a Holiday Inn in Springfield, Virginia, is because the gathering was infiltrated by Ehsan Rehan, the brave Pakistani-born journalist and editor of who went undercover and captured video and audio.

    • Turkey: 1,000 could be falsely accused of links to cleric

      Turkey has arrested some 50,000 people since the coup and purged 110,000 others from government jobs.

    • “Swatting” didn’t kill a man, police did

      As much as “swatting” is a waste of public resources and an atrocious prank that deserves attention, it’s irresponsible and disingenuous to leave police accountability out of the conversation about the case in Kansas.

    • Mother of “swatting” victim wants cop criminally charged for shooting

      The letter says police have yet to return the family’s front door as well as a computer, two cell phones, and other items that were taken in the wake of last week’s shooting.

    • Attorney: Family of ‘swatting’ victim wants officer charged

      “Justice for the Finch family constitutes criminal charges against the shooting officer and any other liable officers as well as damages against the city of Wichita for the policies and practices of its Police Department,” Stroth said.

    • Enraged off-duty NYPD cop pistol-whips, beats driver in Brooklyn

      Sources said Baror, 24, jumped out of the SUV waving and pointing a gun and shouted, “Don’t you know who the f— I am? I’m NYPD! You don’t f— with the NYPD.”

      Baror then allegedly punched Nacimas and his girlfriend Jaclyn Araiza, 27.

    • Now even refugees are afraid in Sweden: Want to leave Malmö in droves

      Another resident of Malmö sees a connection between violence against women and the image of women in Islam. She is a teacher and says Islamisation is indeed taking place: More girls wear a hijab and more students prefer [assimilate into]the Islamic culture.

    • Mohammed most popular name for newborn boys in the Netherlands for second year in a row

      The name Noah was putatively considered the most popular boy’s name for 2017, having been given to 635 new-born boys in the Netherlands. A journalist from broadcaster Powned did some research into the database, however, and noticed that another name, a non-traditional Dutch name, was slightly more prevalent.

    • FUREY: Hijab hoax girl, family owe Canadians an apology

      On Monday, Toronto Police issued the following brief statement. “After a detailed investigation, police have determined that the events described did not happen,” it read. “Our investigation is concluded and we don’t expect anything further.”

    • Toronto police say hijab-cutting incident didn’t happen

      The story made international headlines and drew public condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    • Washington State AG Sues Motel 6 For Handing Over Guest Registry Info To ICE

      At some point in the recent past, Motel 6 owners decided they were deputized law enforcement personnel. So what if people paid for a night’s worth of uninterrupted sleep and expected that visits from federal and local officials would be kept to a minimum. These owners — which the Motel 6 corporation takes great pain to point out are “independent” owner/operators — have decided to ingratiate themselves with untrustworthy organizations like ICE… or the local PD.

      Some Motel 6s decided to fax guest lists to police departments every night. Others decided they’d turn over every name that looked slightly non-Caucasian to ICE. In both cases, Motel 6 (the corporation) brought the hammer down, swearing it had never given franchisees the permission to turn guest lists into tip sheets for law enforcement. The post-facto corporate rollback wasn’t enough for Washington’s Attorney General. The state looked into local policies after hearing about rogue ICE relationships in Arizona. It found more of the same occurring in Washington, resulting in a state lawsuit against company for turning guests list into ICE fodder.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Tickbox Clearly Promotes and Facilitates Piracy, Hollywood Tells Court

        The owner of TickBox TV, a Kodi-powered streaming device, is being sued for copyright infringement by a group of major Hollywood studios plus Amazon and Netflix. The box seller previously argued that it’s operating legally but in a scathing reply the movie companies counter this assertion.

      • US Govt Brands Torrent, Streaming & Cyberlocker Sites As Notorious Markets

        Keeping its annual tradition, the office of the United States Trade Representative has targeted some of the world’s most famous ‘pirate’ sites in its latest report on copyright infringing venues. In addition to torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, RARBG, and RuTracker, hosting sites 4Shared and Openload come in for criticism. Again this year, a list of sites hosted in Switzerland are under attack.

      • Copyright Week 2018: Join Us in Fighting for Better Copyright Law and Policy

        Copyright law shapes the world we live in. It is supposed to encourage progress and creativity, enriching our culture and contributing to the growth of knowledge. However, the law is often used as a blunt instrument by a few prominent actors to preserve their cultural dominance. Less obviously, governments and other large industries have taken to using the law to hide information they don’t want us to see and use or to limit functionality and ownership of software and devices we buy and use. The law shouldn’t work this way. It should serve us all.

        It doesn’t matter if you are a creator or simply someone who enjoys media; an inventor or someone who just wants to use, fix, or tinker with your devices; a researcher or someone who wants to look up information—copyright law impacts all of these things. And, right now, the law is out of whack. It’s balanced in favor of people who want to control things, instead of people who want to share things.

      • EIFL – Libraries: A Trio Of European Court Rulings

        In recent years, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Europe’s highest court, has made three important rulings concerning digital library activities in Europe, write Vincent Bonnet and Barbara Stratton.

      • Movie Coalition Ramps Up Fight Against TV Streaming Devices

        The movie studios brought similar claims against the maker of the TickBox in October. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment said it was planning more such actions. The TickBox and the Dragon Box are devices known as Kodi boxes, named after the open source software used by many of the systems.

      • Is Copyright Term Extension Finally Done?

        Today’s topic for Copyright Week is Public Domain and Creativity: Copyright policy should encourage creativity, not hamper it. Excessive copyright terms inhibit our ability to comment, criticize, and reworkour common culture.

        Copyright always builds upon the past. The public domain is our shared cultural commons, a near limitless trove of creativity that’s been reused, remixed, and reimagined over centuries to create new works of art and science. The value of the public domain is impossible to overestimate. Contemporary copyright policy should strive to promote, and not diminish, a robust, accessible public domain.

      • Don’t Let Upload Filters Undermine the Public Domain

        We now call that conceptual and legal space the public domain, since works hitherto locked down by private copyright monopolies become freely available to everyone, to enjoy and to re-use as they wish. In doing so, the Statute of Anne fashioned an immensely rich artistic resource that could be drawn upon by later creators. Since all art builds to a lesser or greater degree on the ideas and achievements of those who have come before – nothing emerges in a vacuum – the steady accretion of works in the public domain has formed an ever-larger reservoir from which creators could draw as they wished, with resultant benefits for both them and their audiences.

        Despite the evident power of adding works to this universal resource, the public domain has been under repeated attack. The most direct assault has come from the extension of copyright’s term. All around the world, the length of government protection has moved in one direction only: upwards. From the basic 14 years provided by the Statute of Anne, the copyright ratchet has now brought about a widespread 70 years over and above for the whole lifetime of the creator.

      • The Public Domain Starts Growing Again Next Year, and It’s About Time

        Have you ever wondered how it’s possible for there to be two Jungle Book movies to be in development at the same time? Why everything seems to be based on a work by Shakespeare? Or why it always seems like someone is telling a version of The Wizard of Oz? The answer is that these works are in the public domain, meaning that copyright law no longer prevents other artists from adapting them to create new works.

        One major rationale for copyright is supposedly that, by giving an exclusive set of rights to artists for their work, we incentivize creativity by making it possible for artists to benefit from releasing works to the public. But copyright protection is supposed to be limited, and once it expires, a work enters the public domain, where anyone can use it.

        In the United States, the length of the copyright term has been steadily extended so that published works are effectively copyrighted for 95 years (for corporate works) or until 70 years after an author’s death (for individual works). This has resulted in a public domain that saw increasingly less materials being added to it, limiting the ability of artists to build on works that came before them. The last time Congress changed the law in the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, it was applied retroactively. Effectively, it meant that nothing has entered the public domain in the United States for years. January 1, 2019 will mark the end of this dry spell as works first published in 1923 will finally enter the public domain. That mean works like Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments and Universal’s silent version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, two movies released in 1923, will be eligible to join the public domain.

2018 Will be an Even Worse Year for Software Patents Because the US Supreme Court Shields Alice

12 hours 39 min ago

Positive vision for the year ahead (if you develop software)

Summary: The latest picks (reviewed cases) of the Supreme Court of the United States signal another year with little or no hope for the software patents lobby; PTAB too is expected to endure after a record-breaking year, in which it invalidated a lot of software patents that had been erroneously granted

THE first year of Donald Trump (anniversary 4 days from now), surprisingly enough, did not have much impact on the patent world or the patent landscape in the United States*. Congress barely did anything. One thing Trump did was, he appointed a new Justice.

Prof. Timothy Holbrook of Emory Law wrote about the US Supreme Court‘s decision to look into WesternGeco. From his introduction:

Patent law remains hot at the Supreme Court. The Court on January 14, 2018, agreed to review WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. WesternGeco joins two other patent cases at the Supreme Court (so far) for its October 2017 term.

We wrote about this very briefly towards the end of the weekend. The good news is, no case regarding software patents or anything remotely like it will be looked at. There won’t even be another Mayo. It means that we can expect no imminent changes/alterations in Section 101 and the USPTO, for the time being, has only an interim Director. He is actually the recipient of a lawsuit, Bosch v Matal, on which Kluwer remarked yesterday by saying: “The Board [PTAB] erred, however, in denying the patent owner’s request to substitute 16 amended claims for the original claims. The Board impermissibly assigned the burden of proof on patentability of the proposed amended claims to the patent owner.”

This is a CAFC case regarding PTAB. CAFC cases may have some significance, but they hardly set the law at the USPTO. However this ends, it won’t have any impact on PTAB. What can have impact is Oil States at the US Supreme Court (oral hearings already started). It looks, based on the proceedings so far, like all/most Justices will side with PTAB, which is widely supported (also in briefs from industry). Watchtroll’s daily PTAB bashing carries on unabated (not a day without it, even on Sundays, even yesterday on MLK day). They are propping up patent trolls’ agenda like a lobbying group, knowing quite well that Oil States is likely a losing game for them.

PTAB is important because — with or without a trial — it can invalidate any US patent at any time (if petitioned to do so). It has been a serial enforcer of the Alice test and this is why PTAB has been so scary to proponents of software patents. We still see some of these patents in the news**, but they pose a far lesser threat as long as Section 101 remains in tact and PTAB has the capacity to deal with thousands of petitions per year. Sometimes one can find another basis for thwarting litigation. In this new case, for instance, there was “future promise to assign patent rights” (“I hereby do assign” versus “I will assign”) and this meant that the whole lawsuit was baseless if not an act of misconduct (asserting or leveraging patents that aren’t even one’s own). Newman is standing out from the crowd and dissenting as usual. “Judge Newman dissented,” it says, “believing that the employment agreement was sufficient to transfer ownership of the invention to Ms. Hsiun’s employer.”

The bottom line is, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will look only at WesternGeco and will thus not challenge Alice any time soon. We can therefore expect software patents to erode further and further, more so after TC Heartland (keeping litigation away from district courts that are software patents-friendly).
________
* According to IAM, Trump’s regressive tax policy, or tax ‘cuts’ (to billionaires), will help people who price medicine out of patients’ reach. “Analysts at Goldman Sachs predict a $160 billion windfall for the pharmaceuticals industry, with Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Amgen and Merck & Co named among those with most to gain,” it said.

** More software patents, which would be deemed invalid under Alice/Section 101, still make it into the news. This one is the “over the Internet” type:

Packets are the carriers of data on the internet; they consist of user data (a payload), and also of control information about where the data should go (a header). A packet identifies its sender and addressee by their IP addresses but (currently) does not include any information about the sender’s or addressee’s physical location (geolocation); while IP addresses may indicate, generally, a geographical location, they are not an exact and perfectly reliable determinant of the location – for reasons that include, among other things, the possibility of spoofing IP addresses.

Patent Trolls (Euphemised as “Public IP Companies”) Are Dying in the United States, But the Trouble Isn’t Over

14 hours 4 min ago

Summary: The demise of various types of patent trolls, including publicly-traded trolls, is good news; but we take stock of the latest developments in order to better assess the remaining threat

“Intellectual property [sic] is often the most valuable asset of a startup business,” says a site of lawyers. On Friday they actually published an article titled “What Startups With Lean Budgets Can Do to Protect Their IP”. They don’t quite specify if by “IP” they mean brands, copyrights (e.g. of code), or patents. There’s a paywall. Maybe patents of patent trolls is what they had in mind because virtually no startup actually relies on patents. Startups create compelling services and products.

It is a big problem when startups, even ones which used to have real products, turn into something like PersonalWeb (borderline patent troll, a pseudo-practising entity). PersonalWeb, which we wrote about 6 years ago, is at it again; it’s just suing everyone and Law 360 had a repord about the latest lawsuit a few days ago. To quote:

FanDuel Inc. on Thursday became the latest company hit with a cloud computing patent suit by software developer PersonalWeb Technologies LLC, which in recent days has sued dozens of others, including Airbnb Inc., Blue Apron Inc., Venmo and Reddit.

The developer’s New York federal lawsuit alleges that the way the fantasy sports giant populates its website in real time infringes five different PersonalWeb patents related to cloud computing. Its patented technology, PersonalWeb alleges, allows internet users to have the most up-to-date data at their fingertips.

Sadly, there’s a growing ‘industry’ of litigation; it creates nothing but pain. Those who dare speak about it are immediately attacked by people like Nick Gross, who is groomed by the patent troll Dominion Harbor. On the same day we wrote about him he also joined these trolls on a show [1, 2] (they are habitually defaming me on their show). It certainly seem like they have nothing left but hate mail and defamation. They’re accustomed to bullying.

The patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) now complains that it’s getting harder to be a troll in the US. Dominion Harbor agrees.

“In what remains a tough market for PIPCOs,” IAM said, “Inventergy is well and truly back in the assertion game as it launches a new #patent infringement suit in California”

IAM also said that “Inventergy has just agreed a debt refinancing structured with interest rates of between 8% & 17%, plus profit share. Ouch. Says a lot about PIPCO market these days.”

Let’s hope that patent trolls will all go extinct rather soon. Their “business model” needs to be crushed. Here is what IAM wrote in its blog the other day:

It looks like the public IP company (PIPCO) Inventergy, which went through a recent major restructuring that saw it hand control of a huge portfolio to debt provider Fortress, has reappeared on the assertion scene, filing a suit in the Central District of California against a company called GPS Monitoring Solutions. The patent at the centre of the case was part of a June 2016 deal which saw Inventergy obtain the exclusive rights to license or sell three assets owned by a company called GTX Corp. The PIPCO, headed by former senior HP IP executive Joe Beyers, announced a year ago that it had launched a licensing campaign for the patents, which relate to GPS tracking.

They will attempt to lobby the government. They can afford lobbying. McKool Smith, which represents patent trolls, has just hired (i.e. will pay a salary to) the former ITC Commissioner. Revolving doors much?

Meanwhile, CNBC is writing puff pieces for a notorious patent troll (several of these lately). This week it does one for Amazon. The patent troll in question is stockpiling blockchain patents (and sending me death wishes). IAM says that “Bank of America and IBM lead on blockchain patents” (remember that IBM is a patent bully and trolls harvest these patents). To quote a portion:

As the fluctuating bitcoin market has everyone talking, new research has thrown light on which companies are the leading filers of patents related to blockchain, the technology which underpins the world’s best known cryptocurrency, but whose application could extend to multiple different sectors. Among the leaders are the giant financial institutions Bank of America (which takes the top spot with 43 patents) and Fidelity (which boasts 14 grants), payments leader Mastercard (joint second with 27) and, by far the leading tech player, IBM (another sharing second with 27 patents).

It’s perhaps not surprising that the biggest financial institutions dominate the list of largest blockchain patent owners, but according to the research by Envision IP it is start-ups and other companies focused on developing applications for the technology that have the edge on Wall Street and the largest tech players. Envision claims that these specialists own 59% of the US patents and published applications in the sector, comfortably ahead of financial institutions which have 20% of grants and filings and up on the traditional technology sector which owns around 13%. The digital currency exchange Coinbase leads the way among the specialists with 13 patents followed by the likes of Monegraph, Digital Asset Holdings and SKUChain Inc.

More and more of these patents will likely have no ‘muscle’; They would be deemed invalid under Alice/Section 101 if tested in courts. If used in bulk, however, invaliding all of them would prove more costly than settling.

EPO Management and Team UPC Carry on Lying About Unified Patent Court, Sinking to New Lows in the Process

14 hours 40 min ago

It can never sink low enough

Summary: At a loss for words over the loss of the Unitary Patent, Team UPC and Team Battistelli now blatantly lie and even get together with professional liars such as Watchtroll

THE EPO races to the bottom. The management quit giving a damn about the EPO’s reputation and it is now lying so routinely that staff is left embarrassed (or staff’s intelligence insulted). There are many sectors where lying to staff is easy and management can get away with it. But not patent examiners (scientists). They are hard to mislead and they don’t like being managed by people far less intelligent than them — people who get their job owing to nepotism and submissiveness to authority. Intelligence is no longer being rewarded at the EPO; instead, it’s blind loyalty and lack of scrutiny of patent applications (for the sake of ‘production’). It’s alarming because it means that the EPO won’t be able to attract — and at the same time lose — its most valuable asset, which is smart people. This is how organisations prosper and perish; it’s all about who they’re able to recruit.

We were a little shocked (but not entirely surprised) yesterday when the EPO’s official account wound up retweeting Watchtroll. How low will they stoop to promote the UPC lunacy? Watchtroll is notorious among the online communities that care about science and facts. Here is what the tweet said:

Join me on Thursday 1/18 at 12pm ET for a free webinar on the #UnitaryPatent. Will have a guest from @EPOorg and a European Patent Attorney. Register at http://bit.ly/2CWKtwr . Sponsored by @MorningsideIP pic.twitter.com/VYnpTLHPiY

Incredible. So the EPO is now getting together with these dishonest bullies who promote patent trolls. What next? EPO on Breitbart? Oh wait, that already happened; they look to recruit Breitbart readers.

Either way, what we are gradually witnessing more and more of is departure from science and truth at the EPO. When the EPO gets together with academics it actually pays them to disseminate lies about the UPC [1, 2]. There are always some dishonest academics (lacking integrity) looking to make a quick buck.

Watch what the EPO tweeted yesterday. Again, it’s embarrassing. This is a bunch of lies. The EPO is structuring itself to make accountability weaker, operations worse, and even a study warned them against it. But this helps promote Battistelli’s buddies in DG1, so what’s not to like? These misleading tweets about misleading old ‘news’ from Team Battistelli will not fool EPO employees. They’re too smart for Team UPC’s lies as well.

What now? Well, they’re spreading lies again and it’s working; it enters the media.

“DAV is not the official German Bar Association but nothing more than a private association with voluntary Membership,” one EPO insider wrote. But of course the media doesn’t care about such ‘pesky’ facts, which came directly from Team UPC (later, upon challenge, admitting that it lied).

Some media (all the media that we’ve seen so far!) repeated these claims from Team UPC, calling a submission to the court a significant step towards dismissal of the complaint and attributing it to “German Bar Association”. The headlines spreak for themselves (there have been only two): 1) “German Bar Association says Nein to patent court block effort”; 2) “UPC complaint “inadmissible” says German Bar Association” (both sites are British).

As one can immediately see, these headlines can mislead (most people read just the headlines). This is why Team UPC was spreading the lie that DAV is ‘the’ “German Bar Association” (that isn’t what it really is). The latter keeps citing groups like litigators, so it’s obviously interested only in the views of hardcore litigation lobbies. To quote the exception (IP2Innovate, which we wrote about before [1, 2]):

Advocacy coalition, IP2Innovate, whose members include Google, Spotify and Intel, claimed that trolls already make up a “staggering 20 percent of all patent lawsuits in Germany”.

Patrick Oliver, executive director of IP2Innovate, said that the UPC was a cause for concern and could prove an “attractive venue for patent abuses”.

A spokesperson for the coalition added that “the threat of an EU-wide injunction is a powerful weapon, and the UPC hands PAEs exactly such a weapon.”

Some of the more interesting stuff is happening in the comments at The Register

For starters, Team UPC’s Alex Robinson admits that he lied about DAV being what he claimed it to be (comment #4). To quote:

It’s been drawn to my attention (via comments on Kluwer and correspondence on Twitter) that the DAV is not the official German Bar Association, but instead is a voluntary association. The German Federal Bar Association (of which membership is compulsory) is the Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer (BRAK). This, too, was invited to file observations, but as yet they have not been made public, if such observations were indeed submitted.

An important thing to bear in mind here is that the decision on admissibility ultimately falls to the German Federal Constitutional Court. Thus, while the DAV opinion certainly provides one set of arguments in favour of inadmissibility, this is not a foregone conclusion. Many other organisations have also been invited to comment, but most German practitioners I’ve spoken to expect those organisations to take more or less the same line as the DAV.

My understanding is that the Federal Constitutional Court now has a range of options ranging from a straightforward written finding of inadmissibility at one end, all the way through to – at the other end of the scale – an oral hearing at which both the admissibility and the substance of the complaint are argued in detail. We will probably not know which option the Court will go for until it makes an announcement informing us. This could depend on how persuasive the judges find the arguments for admissibility/inadmissibility from either side.

The lack of transparency in this procedure overall is really quite striking. (If anyone can confirm that this is a general feature of German legal proceedings, do let me know!) The DAV is, in my opinion, to be commended for publicising its position even though many readers of this blog and others may well be in disagreement with the idea of the UPC.

Well, maybe the headline needs to be corrected; Robinson’s headline, The Register‘s headline and the rest. But don’t expect them to do it. To Robinson, such lies are “valuable” or “useful”, so why bother correcting the error?

Check out the next comment about DAV (Tilmann et al):

The DAV’s comments should not be taken at face value. The most recent comments on another Kluwer post illustrate why the DAV’s submissions “amount to nothing more that smoke and mirrors, together with desperate attempts to gloss over gaping holes in the legal arguments”:

http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2017/12/12/prof-tilmann-fcc-several-reasons-reject-inadmissible-complaint-upca/

Whilst the EPO might be an international organisation that is afforded various privileges and immunities, this does not mean that it can operate without any thought to the constraints imposed by EU law. For example, the EPO’s assessment of patentability must respect the provisions of the Biotech Directive. If this does not happen, then there could be serious consequences for the EU Member States. The failure of the DAV’s submissions to acknowledge such complexities therefore provides yet another reason to take their views with a pinch of salt.

As we put it yesterday, UPC is built on political mischief and misconduct, it’s basically just a lie, and Team UPC are greedy liars. Just like the EPO management right now… they belong together. Team UPC and Team Battistelli (EPO management) tell us whatever lies promote the illusion that the UPC is desirable (they like talking about “SMEs”). They want us to think that they ‘unify’ Europe (hence an acronym with “unified” or “unitary”, after the latest rename of “EU” and “community”). It’s all about profits of litigating entities and it harms SMEs the most (they rarely even operate outside their home country).

Finally, just to show the sheer dishonesty of Team UPC, check out what Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s Rachel Montagnon published yesterday. This is the headline: “The Unified Patent Court (UPC) – Open for Business in 2018?”

Pushing lies with a question mark at the end still makes these lies. They’re clearly getting desperate and they ignore every fact which does not suit them, pretending all barriers are gone, including some of the biggest ones, for example:

German ratification is dependent on the outcome of the challenge being mounted in the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) regarding the constitutionality of the law passed by German Parliament on the UPC’s implementation. The German court has asked for observations on the case and had previously set a deadline for any comment by end of October 2017 – though it has been reported that this has now been extended to the end of the year. The FCC will then determine whether or not to dismiss the complaint, a process which is expected to take until at least April 2018. If the complaint is dismissed, Germany will be able to ratify the UPCA soon after. There has, however, been talk of the possibility of the case being referred to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), which would cause substantial delay to the case being decided and ultimately to Germany’s ratification.

See? Not a problem! The complaint in Germany? It’s gone. Poof!

Just because they want barriers to vanish doesn’t mean they will. The author feels comfortable leaning on Jo Johnson, at no point bothering to point out that both he and his predecessors are gone!

China Tightens Its Knot of Restrictive Rules and Patents

Tuesday 16th of January 2018 06:22:26 AM

Recent: China’s Self-Destructive Patent Policy Will Replace Assembly Lines of Products With Assembly Lines of Low-Quality Patents and Lawsuits


Almost everything is “made in China”, but usually not by Chinese brands

Summary: Overzealous patent aggressors and patent trolls in China, in addition to an explosion in low-quality patents, may simply discourage companies from doing production/manufacturing there

THE world is changing as economic shifts become irreversible. Karry Lai, writing from Hong Kong this week, says that “China’s anti-unfair competition law amendments became effective January 1″ (2 weeks ago).

“It is becoming increasingly dangerous to operate in China because the risk of lawsuits grows exponentially (with the pace of patenting at truly astronomical levels that defeat the purpose of patent systems).”In addition, China now engages in mass patenting of just about anything, with nearly 1.5 million patent applications per year. “It’s a sign of the times,” IAM said in relation to the latest legal actions (covered in yesterday morning's roundup) and IAM wrote this article about it (as did Lisa Wang in Taiwan, among others). China has become somewhat of a ‘darling’ to IAM because IAM promotes litigation and aggression, which is something that’s soaring in China these days (IAM has just published this self-promotional piece for the patent ‘industry’ in China).

It is becoming increasingly dangerous to operate in China because the risk of lawsuits grows exponentially (with the pace of patenting at truly astronomical levels that defeat the purpose of patent systems). “A month after finding itself on the receiving end of a trade secret lawsuit from Micron,” IAM wrote, “Taiwan’s UMC has asserted patents in China against the US chip major. This latest litigation means another US semiconductor company finds itself staring down the barrel of a patent lawsuit in Fujian, a hub of China’s domestic memory sector.”

China seems so tactlessly eager to drive out companies that manufacture in China. Even companies from Korea, Japan, and maybe Taiwan or Hong Kong (which China attempts to assert complete sovereignty over). This new article by Jean-Pierre Chigne is one among many — most of them published last week — about the Chinese state-connected giant bulldozing Samsung (of South Korea) in a Chinese court. To quote:

As a result of the ruling, Samsung will also have to pay a small court fee. The court also dismissed Huawei’s other claims, and Samsung will be able to appeal the decision.

Both companies have been filing lawsuits against each other in both the United States and China. Huawei also filed a lawsuit against Samsung in the United States for violating patents on cellular technology and software.

It’s no secret that a lot of the world’s manufacturing is done in China, but it’s often done at the behest of (with orders/invoices) corporations from the US, Europe, Japan, Korea and so on. By becoming so legally aggressive China now puts that at danger. These companies could, instead, set up plants in places like Thailand or Cambodia (some already do just that), where the perceived risk of litigation seems lower.

Microsoft’s Patent Racket Has Just Been Broadened to Threaten GNU/Linux Users Who Don’t Pay Microsoft ‘Rents’

Tuesday 16th of January 2018 05:51:14 AM

“We’ll defend you from the very same patent trolls whom we feed”

“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments”…”

Matt Asay

Summary: Microsoft revisits its aggressive patent strategy which it failed to properly implement 12 years ago with Novell; it wants to ‘collect’ a patent tax on GNU/Linux and it uses patent trolls to make that easier

THE CONNECTION of Microsoft to patent trolls is very obvious. The world’s largest troll (Intellectual Ventures) came from Microsoft, Acacia (patent troll which habitually sues GNU/Linux vendors) has former Microsoft staff, MOSAID (another patent troll) received Nokia’s patents at Microsoft’s instructions, Microsoft’s co-founder has a patent troll (Interval Research Corporation) and Bill Gates himself is directly connected to several patent trolls (some of which he funds).

“What Microsoft’s patent strategists are doing these days is incredibly similar to what they did with Novell in 2006 and similarly called “Advantage”…”About a year ago Microsoft came up with a new plan [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. We wrote many articles about it (nearly 20 in total) and we last wrote about it a month ago in relation to the Provenance Asset Group [1, 2]. What Microsoft’s patent strategists are doing these days is incredibly similar to what they did with Novell in 2006 and similarly called “Advantage” (as in buy SUSE, pay Microsoft, and lower risk of lawsuits from Microsoft and/or its proxies at the time).

Do not be misled by patent propaganda from Microsoft in tweets and in article form (examples from this week alone). Also do not be misled by shallow, poor coverage like this from a few hours ago. The headline euphemistically states “Microsoft extends patent protection shield on-premises,” but what really happens here is a lot simpler: Microsoft extends patent ‘protection’ racket, sends patents to patent trolls and then says, “come to us, we’re safe!”

From the article:

The company hoped that those efforts would let developers do what they do best in Azure, without having to worry about patent trolls popping up from under a bridge. Redmond didn’t offer the service as a perfect shield, but claimed the service was at least better than similar programs from other clouds.

In the pages of The Register lawyer Barry Sookman’s analysis of the program suggested the program’s real purpose may have been to make it hard for patent trolls to open up a new front against Microsoft by suing its customers for patent infringement. Sookman also said the protections offered aren’t super-useful to end-users.

And yet the author missed the whole point! He clearly did not seek to explore the commonly-understood interpretation of Microsoft’s strategy (already covered in various Web sites). So let’s look at the comments, shall we?

“So other people too are ‘getting’ it; they ‘get’ Microsoft’s thinking, unlike some journalists who overlook the real plot and portray this as some sort of goodwill gesture from Microsoft (which claims that it ‘hates’ trolls while actually passing loads of patents to them).”“Protection shield or racket,” says the sole comment on this article. “”It’d be really bad if something bad happened to you so consider joining our platform” says MS.”

So other people too are ‘getting’ it; they ‘get’ Microsoft’s thinking, unlike some journalists who overlook the real plot and portray this as some sort of goodwill gesture from Microsoft (which claims that it ‘hates’ trolls while actually passing loads of patents to them).

EPO Scandals Played a Considerable Role in Sinking the Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Monday 15th of January 2018 10:14:10 AM

Inability to maintain the reputation and perception of justice at the EPO is proving fatal


“Dialogue” like telling the Appeal Boards to sack their colleague, a judge called Patrick Corcoran?
Original: Presidential candidates set out their vision for the EPO | full article (copy)

Summary: Today’s press coverage about the UPC reinforces the idea that the EPO saga, culminating in despicable attacks on Patrick Corcoran (a judge), may doom the UPC once and for all (unless one believes Team UPC)

THE UPC isn’t going ahead, no matter what media may be trying to tell us. Some of that media is literally paid for UPC advocacy. It has been promising or heralding the UPC for a number of years, but it was wrong every time. They are trying to sell outcomes, not information.

To get an idea of what patent professionals think, look at comments. Right now, for example, virtually all the comments about it in Kluwer Patent Blog are negative (13 comments so far, with the author trying to contain the damage after his late Friday 'Molotov'). That speaks for itself really. So do the comments (so far) in this morning’s coverage from The Register. “Good news for UPC advocates, bad news for EPO staff,” says the summary. Well, “UPC advocates” being Team UPC and “good news” being an odd term because the views of Tilmann at el were so predictable that it’s not even news (he already expressed these same views in Kluwer Patent Blog, only to be promptly slammed in the comments). The article is noteworthy for the parts which cover EPO scandals and their relevance to the perception of justice. Quoting the author who is very much familiar with these matters:

To date, it appears that there are three main issues: that it was not properly voted on; that Brexit changes things; and that “reforms” at the European Patent Office (EPO) have undermined the independence of the system.

[...]

That will be a bitter pill for many critics of the EPO who have been outraged in recent weeks that one of those independent judges – Patrick Corcoran – was not reappointed to the EPO’s Boards of Appeal even after he successful won his case against EPO management.

[...]

The bad news is that there appears to be no larger constraint on the EPO’s appalling behavior towards its employees. In fact, the decision may even embolden EPO management to continue its campaign of harassment against staff knowing that there is no organ that can hold it to account, or even punish it for its actions.

The ethical abyss at the EPO has cost UPC its viability. What kind of court, seeing what goes on at the EPO, would give the EPO ‘unitary’ scope (or effect)? That would be irresponsible and reckless. There are ethical issues at play, not just legal or technical.

Over at Patently-O, which has a section on ethics (run by David Hricik*), a new blog post has been published about patent scams. As Hricik put it some days ago:

I love this case because it has lessons for ethics, drafting, and civil procedure.

The holding is pretty simple: an inventor who signs an employment agreement that provides (a) she “will assign” rights to inventions doesn’t then assign them; (b) that she “holds in trust” those rights doesn’t mean she assigns them; and (c) that she “quit claims” those rights doesn’t mean she assigns them. Two judges so held (O’Malley and Reyna), and Judge Newman dissented relying on the “intent” of the contract. The case is Advanced Video Tech. LLC v. HTC Corp. (Fed. Cir. Jan. 11, 2018), here.

We have covered several examples of this over the years. It’s misconduct, yet it’s rarely punishable. There are variants to this kind of misconduct and it always serves to discredit the USPTO. When patent offices fail to maintain their reputation and adjunct courts tolerate it (or cannot challenge the offices), there’s a high cost. The UPC is Europe’s example of it.
______
* Hricik’s blog posts, unlike Crouch’s, are typically OK. He now has this new paper (PDF; via) about the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) — a paper in which he asserts that “patent rights have been weakened through changes in the law [which] effectively eliminates the presumption of validity. Other changes including heightened pleading requirements and state statutes also reduce the coercive benefit that patents confer.”

J Nicholas Gross Thinks Professors Stop Being Professors If They’re Not Patent Extremists Like Him

Monday 15th of January 2018 09:18:15 AM

Summary: The below-the-belt tactics of patent trolls and their allies show no signs of abatement and their tone reveals growing irritation and frustration (inability to sue and extort companies as easily as they used to)

THE INTERNET is not a pleasant place when it comes to discussions about patents. We may seem confrontational/abrasive at times, but nowhere near as much as trolls and their defenders. They describe people who invalidate patents as “killers” or “death squads”. Watchtroll even called them a “cartel” earlier this month.

This theme of death or “kills” isn’t too uncommon. Here is one patent maximalist stating: “In a Rule 36, Fed. Cir. Affirmed 101/Alice Kill of ZKey Patent Asserted against Facebook” (he always, without exception, uses the word “kill” in such scenarios, otherwise “survives” i.e. the language of militarism).

These people are habitually attacking CAFC judges, not just PTAB panels and SCOTUS Justices (as well as the EFF, as J Nicholas Gross repeatedly did when he wrote for the Web site of a patent troll last year). According to him, based on this tweet, professors stop being professors when he doesn’t agree with them on patents. These are his words: “Anti-patent troll “Professor” (RIGHT!) Lemley reversed today: cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/… CAFC says his serial infringer client loses on 101 bc SOFTWARE-BASED ‘innovations can make “non-abstract improvements to computer technology”’ here security profile enabled bette [sic] virus filtering…”

J Nicholas Gross must be suffering from inferiority complex; he’s not a professor like Lemley (heck, he is not even a doctor), so he’s attacking Lemley’s credentials. Some patent trolls did this to me as well, defaming me as having fabricated my Ph.D. and even resorting to literally below-the-belt insults (like speaking about my genitals in their public podcasts). He appeared to have developed quite a reputation for these things and he is connected online (maybe professionally) to these trolls, too. Here he is, only days ago, attacking PTAB’s decision: “Another typical day at PTAB: Facebook inventor has novel, non-obvious invention that distinguishes over prior art, so Examiner overruled; but random application of 101 results in no patent: e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrieveP…”

And on he goes:

Today’s CAFC decision proves categorically that their 101 jurisprudence is disastrously panel-specific, and your only hope as patent owner is that you are fortunated to get udges who actually understand how software works: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-2520.Opinion.1-8-2018.1.PDF …

From what I can gather, virtually none of these proponents of software patent (and vocal PTAB bashers) even wrote a computer program. Ever. The above rant comes from a person (attorney) whose online profile suggests to be “[c]urrently marketing and soliciting offers for license or purchase of certain key patent assets in the area of e-commerce…”

Sounds like the patent ‘assertion’ types (borderline trolling). That explains it then.

The US Supreme Court Has Just Denied Another Chance to Deal With a Case Similar to Alice (Potentially Impacting § 101)

Monday 15th of January 2018 08:40:03 AM

§ 101 will carry on invaliding abstract patents

Summary: There is no sign that software patents will be rendered worthwhile any time in the near future, but proponents of software patents don’t give up

THE departure from software patenting (more so post-Alice) isn’t to be taken for granted. It needs to be guarded. There are many attempts to undermine Alice, e.g. overriding the decision with another (more recent one), changing Section 101 (§ 101), and passing new laws in Congress. The USPTO probably couldn’t care any less because it profits from patents (academics say it explains low patent quality), but at the same time it needs to respect the law, especially the Supreme Court.

Do not expect the Supreme Court to override (or ‘overturn’ so to speak) Alice any time soon. As a matter of fact, a case which a patent maximalist claims to an “Alice 101 case” will remain buried as far as the Justices are concerned.

“As a matter of fact, a case which a patent maximalist claims to an “Alice 101 case” will remain buried as far as the Justices are concerned.”“Yesterday,” the maximalist wrote, “the Supreme Court Denied Cert. in RecogniCorp v Nintendo—an Alice 101 case.” He also said that “the Supreme Court Denied Cert. in the UMass Gene Case—an Eleventh Amendment State Immunity Case.” He then added that “the Supreme Court Denied Cert in the Smartflash v Apple case, where &533M verdict was reversed.” And finally: “The S.Ct. granted cert. today in Western Ge. co LLC v. Ion Geophysical Corp., case number 16-1011. This is a damages case.” Patently-O cared enough about that last one to write a blog post about it. “The Supreme Court has granted writ of certiorari in the international-patent-damages case WesternGeco LLC (Schlumberger) v. ION Geophysical Corp., Docket No. 16-1011,” it said. This has zero relevance to Alice. It’s here to stay and that’s just fine.

This very long new article from Josh Landau explains that it’s not the ‘disaster’ or the ‘avalanche’ the patent microcosm tries to call it. Here are some numbers to put things in perspective:

This search shows that, from Bilski’s opinion through mid-July 2017, there have been a total of 22,047 patent applications which have ultimately been abandoned after receiving a § 101 rejection under any of Bilski, Alice, Mayo, or Myriad. (For comparison, the USPTO issues approximately 300,000 patents every year.)

This doesn’t mean that these applications were abandoned because of the § 101 rejection—for example, a number were abandoned even though they were allowed because the applicant failed to pay the issue fee. It doesn’t even mean that the § 101 rejection wasn’t overcome—in some cases, the § 101 rejection is overcome and rejections over prior art lead to abandonment. All it means is that at some point a § 101 rejection was received, and the application was ultimately abandoned.

Still, this is the highest possible number of applications that could even arguably be considered to be abandoned for a reason that is in some way related to a § 101 rejection.

Let’s take a look at the opposite question—how many patent applicants overcome a § 101 rejection?

In an effort to ‘scandalise’ § 101 the lobbying ‘media’ keeps on going. The patent microcosm, as one ought to expect, is all over this. It refuses to let go and this article from 3 days ago said: “Patents protect inventions that are new, useful and nonobvious. The three main categories of patents are utility patents, design patents, and business method/software patents.”

“In an effort to ‘scandalise’ § 101 the lobbying ‘media’ keeps on going.”But what kind of law firm would honestly promote business method/software patents in 2018?

Here’s another new example, this one titled “Patent Eligibility and Obviousness in a Covered Business Method Patent Review” (also from the patent microcosm). “The limits of patent eligibility continue to be a major hurtle,” it says, but for who? For those who pursue litigation, not creation. But that’s not how the law firm puts it. To quote:

The limits of patent eligibility continue to be a major hurtle for patent owners whose patents are subject to Covered Business Method Patent Review (CBM) at the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In IBG LLC v. Trading Tech. Int. Inc., Case CMB2016-00090 (PTAB December 7, 2017) the PTAB issued a Final Written Decision holding that US Patent 7,725,382 was not directed to patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101. In addition to the §101 holding, the PTAB held that the Petitioner failed to meet their burden to show that the ‘382 Patent was obvious over certain prior art under 35 U.S.C. §103.

These are the usual rants about § 101, PTAB and so on. It has gotten rather tiring. The same site is absolutely paranoid over Alice/Mayo (§ 101). See the last paragraph here:

The answer to the question posed by the title is no, the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Inventor Holdings, LLC v. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., No. 2016-2442 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 8 2017) notwithstanding (reported on by this blog in “Attorney Fees Awarded for Post-Alice Patent Litigation”). Two recent district court patent cases in which the validity under 35 USC §101 of the asserted patents was in question yielded different results on the award of attorney fees under 35 USC § 285 (Opal Run LLC, Plaintiff v. C & A Marketing, Inc., Defendant, No. 2:16-CV-00024-JRG-RSP (Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division) (November 29, 2017) (“Opal Run v. C&A”) and Product Association Technologies v. Clique Media Group, No. CV 17-5463-GW (PJWx), (Central District of California) (November 30, 2017) (“PAT v. Clique Media”)). Both cases slightly predate the Federal Circuit’s Inventor Holdings decision.

[...]

Lessons for Practice

Think twice before asserting claims that may be vulnerable to a §101 challenge.

Prior to asserting a claim that may be vulnerable to a §101 challenge, decide if saving the claim from a §101 review is worth the risk of paying attorney fees.

When seeking attorney’s fees for a defendant, dig as deep as possible to find evidence of the plaintiff’s motives in asserting the infringement claims.

They just try hard to bypass § 101 in order to dodge challenges, seeing perhaps press releases like this new one which speaks of “patents [on] understanding personality” (using algorithms).

“…not every time § 101 gets brought up it’s instantaneously applicable.”These are clearly software patents. They just avoid this term.

The same site posted another such rant a few some days ago (regarding Alice) and this time it was looking to exploit Finjan (a troll case which we covered the other day and Watchtroll belatedly mentioned on Sunday). They’re latching onto this case for Alice-bashing purposes, even though there’s no basis for it, as we explained some days ago. To quote:

Broad patent claims directed to computer virus screening have survived an Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101 patent-eligibility challenge at the Federal Circuit. Finjan, Inc., v. Blue Coat Systems Inc., No. 2016-2520 (January 10, 2018) (precedential). As reported here, the District Court had denied a post-trial motion seeking to set aside a finding of infringement on the grounds that claims of the ’844 patent were patent-ineligible. Addressing patent-eligibility along with other issues (not addressed in this post) related to several patents in suit, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,154,844, entitled “System and method for attaching a downloadable security profile to a downloadable,” are not directed to a patent-ineligible abstract idea.

As we said before, not every time § 101 gets brought up it’s instantaneously applicable. The very fact that it’s not a catch-all defense actually lends legitimacy to § 101. But don’t expect sites like Watchtroll to acknowledge that. They’re lobbying and selling their services, that’s all. A couple of days ago the founder posted his marketing spam (selling the ‘industry’ which rips inventors off). In his own words: “For competent, thorough US patent searches alone you would pay at least $400 for something that is relatively simple and up to $800 to $1,000 for a search alone on something complex, or deals with software. This cost is for the professional patent search alone, and does not include the cost of an attorney to review the search and offer an opinion about patentability.”

The bottom like is, who pays? The other day fee deference was brought up after the “the district court dismissed the case on summary judgment after finding the claims barred under 35 U.S.C. § 102.”

“Watchtroll also runs sponsored press releases.”Whoever pays does not matter much to the law firms; it’s always them who eventually net that money.

Watchtroll also runs sponsored press releases. Truth does not seem to matter to these people and authors in TechDirt generally regard that site to be lacking integrity (they told me so). Watchtroll now boils down to § 101 lobbying, PTAB bashing and sometimes even CAFC bashing (Robert Schaffer and Joseph Robinson wrote two articles to that effect on Friday [1, 2]). From the latest PTAB rant of theirs: “The Federal Circuit affirmed the rejection of several claims in a patent owned by Monsanto. The patent is directed to a two-step process for crossing two parent soybean lines to produce soybean seeds with a modified fatty acid profile. The Board affirmed the examiner’s rejection, during inter partes reexamination, that the claims are anticipated by, or obvious over, a prior art patent to Booth.”

Monsanto has long used patents to bully just about everyone. Its patents are, unsurprisingly, some of the most notorious out there as they claim ‘ownership’ of particular bits of nature. These are ethical issues. Bilski, Alice, Mayo, and Myriad are very much necessary.

Litigation Roundup: Nintendo, TiVo, Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Philips, UMC

Monday 15th of January 2018 07:32:02 AM

…And more legal actions are now being filed in China

Summary: The latest high-profile legal battles, spanning a growing number of nations and increasingly representing a political shift as well

THE effort to keep abreast of litigation, except nuisance litigation from trolls, carries on. Yesterday we found this report about Nintendo using its sometimes notorious patents to sue a small company, Colopl. A popular gaming site wrote about it:

Nintendo is suing Japanese mobile games developer Colopl for allegedly infringing on five of the publisher’s patents.

This lawsuit could be interesting for indie developers worried about patent issues in their own work as well. As Siliconera reports, one of the patent complaints from Nintendo include “the special technology used to operate a joystick over a touch panel” which is featured in Colopl’s mobile title White Cat Project. The patent was supposedly originally filed in 2006 with regard to the Nintendo DS wrist strap.

The most media attention has been given to cases that involve one large company suing another. There were several such examples last week. TiVo is now bullying rivals (not a new thing) using patents; what’s noteworthy is that it’s done via subsidiaries. Averting/reducing risk of counteraction? See “Boston-based TiVo subsidiary sues Comcast for patent infringement”, “TiVo Hits Comcast With More Lawsuits Targeting X1″, “TiVo Sues Comcast Again, Alleging Operator’s X1 Infringes Eight Patents” and “TiVo Sues Comcast Again, Alleging Operator’s X1 Infringes Eight Patents”. Here are some details:

TiVo has launched a new legal attack on Comcast aimed a pushing the cable giant to reach a settlement to license TiVo-owned patents.

TiVo’s Rovi subsidiary on Wednesday filed two lawsuits in federal district courts, alleging Comcast’s X1 platform infringes eight TiVo-owned patents. That includes technology covering pausing and resuming shows on different devices; restarting live programming in progress; certain advanced DVR recording features; and advanced search and voice functionality.

One can only guess (it’s not hard) why the lawsuit comes from X1 and not from TiVo (directly).

There’s another patent lawsuit against another media company. Philips has just reminded us of its capacity as a patent bully (it has done this for decades). As Reuters put it:

A patent licensing company on Monday accused music-streaming service Spotify of infringing three patents originally granted to Dutch technology giant Philips.

Sisvel, an Italian intellectual property management firm, sued Spotify in U.S. District Court in Delaware, alleging infringement of three patents relating to methods of making music recommendations based on a user’s listening habits.

We wrote quite a lot about Sisvel. We have covered its actions, sometimes at the behest of Philips, for nearly a decade now. Sisvel is still around and it’s still vicious. They’re behaving like the Mafia at times. What’s interesting is that they’re European and there aren’t many trolls in Europe. There are some, but not many. We hope to keep it that way. There are many activists here who oppose the UPC because they correctly perceive it as an open door to patent trolls. One of those activists is mentioned in this new article about his new game for iPhone. “Florian has fought for the open source movement and small software companies against software patents,” it says. That alludes to Florian Müller, who spent years of his busy life covering Apple/Samsung patent disputes. Here is the latest on that:

Apple, Samsung Continue Ongoing War Over Royalties

Another battle in Apple and Samsung’s seemingly ceaseless smartphone patent wars played out in front of a federal judge on Thursday, this one pertaining to Samsung’s redesigns following a jury verdict for Apple in 2014.

The patent, U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647, relates to the operation of quicklinks – a software program that allows users to prompt hyperlinks that can take them to a webpage, a different application platform or perform a function within an operating system.

“Each redesign consisted of only one or two minor changes,” Apple attorney Mark Selwyn told U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh during the prolonged hearing that featured several back-and-forths between the two lawyers.

Speaking of Samsung, there was a lot of press coverage last week regarding Huawei winning a patent infringement lawsuit against it, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Many articles focused on political tensions associated with Huawei (e.g. [1, 2], but nearly all the major sites which cover patent matters focused on Huawei versus Samsung in China. What will be the ramifications for the Korean giant in China and elsewhere? As IAM put it the other day: “Big news out of China – Shenzhen court awards Huawei country’s first-ever injunction based on an “international SEP” in suit against Samsung [...] For China to become a major patent litigation venue, foreign plaintiffs will need to feel that the opposite – ie a Samsung injunction awarded against Huawei – would be equally as possible.”

“China may view this as a short-term competitive advantage, but sooner or later firms like Samsung may take their production out of mainland China (if not to avoid sanctions then purely as a form of economic retaliation). What would China be left with if manufacturing goes elsewhere? A pile of worthless patents and lots of law firms?”Well, “injunction” is a euphemism for embargo, either temporary or longterm/permanent. Who benefits from such sanctions? The same goes for the US, which has begun a sort of trade war with China over Huawei devices (cannot be bought from or even stocked by some of the largest carriers). Meanwhile in China, “UMC Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit against Micron,” based on a press release from the weekend.

As we’ve argued before, China seems to be emulating Texas and we don’t think that’s a good thing at all. China may view this as a short-term competitive advantage, but sooner or later firms like Samsung may take their production out of mainland China (if not to avoid sanctions then purely as a form of economic retaliation). What would China be left with if manufacturing goes elsewhere? A pile of worthless patents and lots of law firms? What made China attractive for many firms (for manufacturing at least) isn’t strong patent “protection” but perhaps the very opposite of that.

Roundup of Patent News From Canada, South America and Australia

Monday 15th of January 2018 06:47:53 AM

Summary: A few bits and pieces of news from around the world, serving to highlight patent trends in parts of the world where the patent offices haven’t much international clout/impact

THIS site typically focuses on the EPO, the USPTO and sometimes the patent offices in east Asia (primarily JPO, KIPO, and SIPO) because these are some of the most influential ones, with corresponding buzzwords like “IP5″. But as an aside, here’s a quick update from a few of the rest.

Canada

A few hours ago Managing IP published “Canada’s eight most important IP cases in 2017″, “Cases and trends to watch in Canada in 2018″, and “CIPO’s IP Canada report reveals global focus among IP applicants” (CIPO was recently mentioned quite a lot in relation to the EPO and PPH).

“Last year we wrote about sinking patent quality at the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BPTO) and half a decade ago we wrote about the threat of software patents coming to Brazil.”We have been covering CIPO for a long time; the matter of fact is, large Canadian companies tend to focus on the USPTO and litigate in the United States.

South America

Managing IP wrote about Argentina the other day, noting that the “Argentine government has issued a decree that affects trade marks, patents and designs.”

“The biggest change is oppositions will need to be settled within three months,” Michael Loney added. The Argentinian patent system would most likely be used by locals and rarely by foreign companies. Such is the nature of low-impact patent offices (same for CIPO to some degree). It is to do with the size of the economy.

“It’s not hard to see that the scope of patents has gone mad, in some places more so than others (China for instance).”There’s a similar thing going on in Brazil, where some suggested eliminating backlog by just granting everything. Numerous reports suggested that such a plan had since then been shelved, yet Watchtroll keeps pushing that idea and IAM tries to make it sound reasonable by stating: “Wouldn’t this be the de facto creation of a utility patent system in Brazil? The only big difference with what they have in Germany, China etc is that in Brazil the patents would have a longer shelf life.”

It’s hardly surprising that patent maximalists such as Watchtroll and IAM would push in such a direction. To them, patent quality is a foe and an undesirable thing. As we noted last night, this is why they also attack PTAB. Last year we wrote about sinking patent quality at the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BPTO) and half a decade ago we wrote about the threat of software patents coming to Brazil. They’re not quite there yet, but the patent microcosm can hope…

It’s not hard to see that the scope of patents has gone mad, in some places more so than others (China for instance). Even lives are already being patented and there’s an upcoming event striving to push that agenda.

Australia

Mark Summerfield, who promotes software patents, has just written about computer-generated patent applications. If such lunacies are permitted, the patent system will become obsolete or collapse (we wrote about this many times over the past year because the press had brought it up repeatedly). But here’s how he put it:

As I shall explain, however, I do not agree with Professor Abbott that computers can, or should, be regarded as inventors for the purpose of granting patents. Furthermore, while Abbott accepts claims that patents have already been granted on what he calls ‘computational inventions’, I firmly believe that a computer is yet to ‘invent’ anything. In my view, the researchers and technologists who claim otherwise have an interest in promoting a particular perspective, and in doing so they are subtly extending the definitions of ‘creation’ and ‘invention’ to encompass the contribution of their machines, to the detriment of the human operators who are responsible for providing the true creative input in the process.

The patent system wasn’t intended for machines to process; it’s a repository of knowledge for humans to organise and utilise (see “2017 Patent Applications Can Predict Innovations of the Future” from the end of December). But to those who make a living out of patent bureaucracy the notion of explosion in the number of patents sure seems seductive.

At the start of the month Summerfield wrote about his occupation and gave the following numbers:

Of the 1004 registered trans-Tasman patent attorneys, 1003 have contact information enabling their country of work and/or residence to be identified. The map and table below summarises the various places around the world where trans-Tasman attorneys may be found.

Relying on people to feud or sue each other with patents? That’s their everyday life. Sadly, there too they have a strong grip on the media. When it comes to policy, however, their grip has slipped. Both Australia and New Zealand have made it hard to pursue software patents, among other things.

Links 15/1/2018: Linux 4.15 RC8, Wine 3.0 RC6

Monday 15th of January 2018 06:00:50 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Hands on With System76’s Beautiful Linux Distro Pop!_OS

      When I saw that System 76 launched their #TryPopOS campaign last month I knew this was the perfect opportunity to really put Pop!_OS through its paces. I am a proud owner of the Galago Pro, which I purchased the day they launched pre-orders this Spring and it has been my primary computer since then. I use it for everything from writing articles, to browsing the internet, to light gaming, and though the machine as its quirks I am beyond happy with it.

      Back when I ordered the laptop Pop!_OS wasn’t announced yet so my laptop came with stock Ubuntu, which I promptly replaced with Ubuntu GNOME. Since then I have tried a couple different options including Elementary OS, Manjaro GNOME Edition, and most recently I have settled on KDE Neon.

      Everything I have thrown at it has worked great on it so far, but now it is time to try something different. Here is my experience with System 76’s Pop!_OS.

  • Kernel Space
    • LittleFS: A New File-System For ARM Embedded Devices

      LittleFS is a lightweight file-system that’s being developed for embedded systems.

      LittleFS as implied by the name is intended to be a “little” file-system for embedded devices, in particular “Internet of Things” style platforms. LittleFS strives to be a fail-safe file-system that can work with minimal amounts of RAM/ROM, power-loss resilient, and supports wear-leveling for flash memory.

    • Linux 4.15-rc8 Bringing BPF Security Improvements For Fending Speculative Attacks

      With the Linux 4.15-rc8 kernel that is expected for release today as the final step before Linux 4.15, it’s still seeing continued security improvements in the wake of the Spectre CPU vulnerabilities.

      Landing in the mainline Git tree at this stage of the Linux 4.15 kernel cycle were some security features around BPF, the Berkeley Packet Filter and the related and popular Extended BPF (eBPF) virtual machine for the Linux kernel.

    • Linux 4.15-rc8

      Ok, another week has gone by, and here’s the promised rc8.

      I’m still hoping that this will be the last rc, despite all the
      Meltdown and Spectre hoopla. But we will just have to see, it
      obviously requires this upcoming week to not come with any huge
      surprises.

      The patches aren’t huge, but architecture updates do end up being a
      largish part. That’s partly due to the x86 “retpoline” support (well,
      the basic stuff that is uncontested), but also because the powerpc
      people decided they wanted to play too, so there’s some low-level
      kernel entry changes there too. Aren’t we lucky?

      Oh, and there’s a small RISC-V update too.

      But outside of that, we’ve got driver updates (gpu, networking, usb,
      sound, NVMe), some core networking, and some tooling updates (mostly a
      few new x86 selftests). And some random misc fixlets (documentation,
      apparmor, crypto).

      Go forth and test. It all looks pretty solid to me,

      Linus

    • Kernel prepatch 4.15-rc8

      The 4.15-rc8 kernel prepatch is out for testing. Among other things, it includes the “retpoline” mechanism intended to mitigate variant 2 of the Spectre vulnerability. Testing of this change will be hard, though, since it requires a version of GCC that almost nobody has — watch LWN for a full article in the near future.

    • Linux 4.15-rc8 Released As The Last Before Final

      LINUX KERNEL –
      Linus Torvalds has released Linux 4.15-rc8 as the last planned release candidate prior to officially debuting Linux 4.15 next weekend.

      Linux 4.15-rc8 brings some BPF security improvements in the wake of the Spectre CPU vulnerabilities and there is the other smothering of bug/regression fixes too with this weekly Linux 4.15 release candidate.

    • An Incident Worth Noticing: Linux Kernel Mailing List Website Goes Down for Days

      Reality: the website goes down because it is hosted on a home server that suffered a power outage and needed the password to boot. Problem was that owner Jasper was on vacation when this incident happened.

    • Wait, what? The Linux Kernel Mailing List archives lived on ONE PC? One BROKEN PC?

      Spare a thought for Jasper Spaans, who hosts the Linux Kernel Mailing List archive from a single PC that lives in his home. And since things always happen this way the home machine died while he was on holiday.

      The archive was therefore unavailable for much of the weekend, although Linux developers could still use mirrors like Indiana University’s effort.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Some Of What’s Coming For Wayland’s Weston 4.0 Compositor

        Earlier this week ongoing Wayland/Weston release manager Bryce Harrington at Samsung laid out plans for Wayland 1.15 and Weston 4.0. There’s been some push-back on the proposed dates to try to allow some more work to land in these upcoming six month releases to Wayland/Weston, but long story short, these next releases will be here in the near future.

        With Wayland itself quite mature, there isn’t much that’s exciting for end-users about Wayland 1.15. In fact, not many changes at all unless there’s a last-minute rush of new work to land. As is the case these days, most of the interesting work is happening within the Weston compositor space as developers flesh out new functionality and prototype features that will hopefully be picked up by the other Wayland compositors that are becoming widely used on the Linux desktop.

      • Linux Graphics Trends Over The Past Five Years

        Yesterday I posted some Linux hardware statistics going back to 2011 using data collected by the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org. Those yearly metrics hadn’t contained any GPU/driver data, but here are those numbers.

        The graphics numbers were omitted from yesterday’s article as I had to make some tweaks to its parser and post-processor due to the wide assortment of graphics driver/hardware combinations, joining the ATI and AMD data, etc compared to the statistics collection on more basic/uniform hardware components. The sample set used was a maximum of 100,000 systems per year with the data being collected through the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org.

      • Freedreno Gallium3D Lands A5xx Texture Tiling For Better Performance

        Freedreno lead developer Rob Clark has landed initial support for texture tiling with Qualcomm Adreno A5xx graphics hardware.

    • Benchmarks
      • Debian vs. Ubuntu vs. CentOS vs. openSUSE vs. Clear Linux Post-Meltdown Performance

        With Linux distributions being patched since last week’s Meltdown and Spectre disclosure, here are benchmarks on some of the prominent distributions looking at their performance impact since being patched. Tested from an Intel Core i7 8700K system was CentOS, Clear Linux, Debian, openSUSE, and Ubuntu.

      • GCC 8.0 vs. LLVM Clang 6.0 On AMD EPYC

        At the beginning of January I posted some early LLVM Clang 6.0 benchmarks on AMD EPYC while in this article is comparing the tentative Clang 6.0 performance to that of the in-development GCC 8.0. Both compilers are now into their feature freeze and this testing looked at the performance of generated binaries both for generic x86_64 as well as being tuned for AMD’s Zen “znver1″ microarchitecture.

      • Phoronix Test Suite 7.8 M2 Released As “Folldal” Development Heats Up

        Just one week after Phoronix Test Suite 7.8 Milestone 1, the second development release of 7.8-Folldal is now available for testing.

        Phoronix Test Suite 7.8 M2 is heavier on the end-user facing changes as this quarterly development cycle heats up and also initial planning underway for Phoronix Test Suite 8.0 that in turn will ship this summer.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • 8 KDE Plasma Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Productivity

        KDE’s Plasma is easily one of the most powerful desktop environments available for Linux. It’s highly configurable, and it looks pretty good, too. That doesn’t amount to a whole lot unless you can actually get things done.

        You can easily configure Plasma and make use of a lot of its convenient and time-saving features to boost your productivity and have a desktop that empowers you, rather than getting in your way.

      • Flatpak support in Discover

        People often ask about the state of Flatpak in Discover, so today I’m going to write about that. Thew good news is that Discover’s Flatpak support is very good and getting better all the time. It’s fully production ready and we encourage you to use it!

      • Flatpak Support Is Now “Production Ready” In KDE Discover

        It seems to be a busy weekend for KDE news… The latest is that the Flatpak app sandboxing support formerly known as XDG-App is considered production ready within KDE Discover.

        KDE Discover, the closest thing currently to an “app store” on the KDE desktop and for managing add-ons and installing other packages, now has vetted Flatpak support. Going back a year KDE Discover has been working on Flatpak support as well as Ubuntu Snap/Snappy support but now the Flatpak support is in good standing.

      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.42.0

        KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.42.0.

        KDE Frameworks are 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the Frameworks 5.0 release announcement.

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.42 Brings Wayland Improvements, Plasma & KIO Activity

        KDE Frameworks 5.42.0 was released today as the latest monthly feature update to this collection of add-on KDE libraries complementing Qt5.

        With KDE Frameworks 5.42.0 there is some new icons/support to the Breeze icon set, a number of KIO changes, continued work on Kirigami, experimental RCC file support in KPackage, various KWayland improvements, and more refining to the Plasma Framework.

      • digiKam 5.8.0 is released

        Following the release of 5.7.0 published in September 2017, the digiKam team is proud to announce the new release 5.8.0 of the digiKam Software Collection. In this version a lot of work has happened behind the scenes and in fixing bugs as usual, which does not mean there are no enhancements: a new tool to export collections to UPNP/DLNA compatible devices has been introduced.

      • DigiKam 5.8 Released With Export Support To UPnP/DLNA Devices

        The KDE-developed, Qt-powered digiKam photo management software is out with its first feature update of 2018.

        DigiKam 5.8.0 is the new release out this weekend. Most of the digiKam 5.8 development work the past quarter was focused on under-the-hood type improvements, but there is also many bug fixes, improved AppImage support with now handling Firejail sandboxing, MySQL support improvements, the ability to export to UPnP/DLNA compatible devices, DropBox exporting now supports OAuth2, and various other enhancements.

      • KSuperkey, Plasma, and Trisquel 8

        This short tutorial explains how to enable pressing Win key to open menu at Plasma 5.5 on Trisquel 8. For that purpose, you need KSuperkey program, which needs git and make programs to obtain the source code and install it onto your Trisquel system. Fortunately, the KSuperkey program is small, the process is very easy and quick, and it needs only less than 3 minutes. Follow instructions below.

      • Last Weeks Activity in Elisa

        Elisa is a music player designed to be simple and nice to use. It allows to browse music by album, artist or all tracks. You can build and play your own playlist. We aim to build a fluid interface that is easy to use.

        We are preparing for the next alpha release when the following features will be done. Alexander is working on a metadata view for tracks. I am working on cleaning the different grid views into a generic one.

        Diego Gangl did several modifications of the interface as part of the interactions with KDE VDG.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Librsvg gets Continuous Integration

        One nice thing about gitlab.gnome.org is that we can now have Continuous Integration (CI) enabled for projects there. After every commit, the CI machinery can build the project, run the tests, and tell you if something goes wrong.

        Carlos Soriano posted a “tips of the week” mail to desktop-devel-list, and a link to how Nautilus implements CI in Gitlab. It turns out that it’s reasonably easy to set up: you just create a .gitlab-ci.yml file in the toplevel of your project, and that has the configuration for what to run on every commit.

  • Distributions
    • The Top 10 Linux Distros You Never Heard About

      As I have mentioned in previous articles, the open-source community is littered with many distributions – some of which you might never get to hear about if you’re not connected to an affiliated party or happen to come across a reference ad.

      Plus, it’s a new year and we have been dropping Top 10 (and sometimes higher) titles since it began so you shouldn’t be surprised that we are here with another one.

      In case you missed it, we recently published an article on The Top 10 Linux Desktop Distros of 2017, and I thought it will be nice if we checked out a couple of distros that might not have made it to the limelight in 2017 but are still significant and will probably be of great use to our readers.

    • Reviews
      • MX Linux MX-17 Horizon – Shaping up beautifully

        From an underdog to a kennel master. That’s probably the best, most succinct way to describe MX Linux. While you still may be confused about its heritage, with words like Mepis and AntiX slipping in, it’s one of the more refined Xfce distros around, and I have been thoroughly impressed by the last version, MX-16. As it turns out, I proudly crowned it the Best of Xfce 2017 distro. It also notched very high on the overall annual best-of competition.

        Now, there’s a new version out. I will first conduct the test on the old LG laptop, but now that I’ve managed to fix the read-only UEFI on my Lenovo G50 machine, I will conduct a second test on that laptop – provided everything works fine in this first review. So we have ancient hardware, Nvidia graphics, dual boot. Commence.

      • What’s New in MX Linux 17

        MX Linux 17 is the latest release of MX Linux. This release powered by Linux kernel 4.13, based on Debian GNU/Linux 9.3 “Stretch” and using Xfce 4.12.3 as default desktop environment.

        Various improvements have been implemented to several of the in-house built tools, such as a larger interface for mx-tools’ dashboard, simpler editing of conky files in mx-conky, and new themes in mx-updater. The mx package installer tool, mx-snapshot, mx-tweak, mx-network-assistant, and mx-iDevice-mounter utilities have also been updated.

      • deepin 15.5 – A different desktop

        deepin is a Debian-based Linux distribution which features the custom Deepin Desktop Environment along with several in-house desktop applications. The deepin project develops its own file manager, media players, software centre and settings panel, along with other desktop applications. Clearly, the deepin team is very busy working on a desktop solution, one which is easy to navigate.

        deepin is available as a 3.2GB download for 64-bit x86 computers. Booting from the project’s media gives us the option of starting the installation process, booting the operating system in failsafe mode or checking the media’s integrity. In both of my test environments, deepin would boot and launch the installer (the first option), but was unable to boot in failsafe mode, whether run in UEFI or Legacy BIOS mode.

        Taking the install option brings up a graphical environment where we are asked to select our preferred language from a list. In the upper-right corner of the screen there is an “X” which, when clicked, lets us abort the installation. Quitting the installer immediately powers off the computer. Once we have selected our language we are asked to create a username and password for ourselves. We can then select our time zone from a map of the world.

        Partitioning comes next and here I encountered several options. We are asked whether we want Simple or Advanced partitioning. The Simple option takes over the entire hard drive, creating an ext4 file system. A 4GB swap file is set up on the root partition for us. This is the easy way forward, but it wipes out any other installed systems or partitions.

        The Advanced option lets us select where to install the system’s boot loader and presents us with a list of available partitions and free space. At first I wasn’t able to find any way to add new partitions, but eventually found the button for adding and editing partitions is a grey icon on a grey background, making it difficult to spot. Once the button was found, setting up new partitions was fairly straight forward. The deepin installer will not proceed if the root partition is 16GB or smaller in size when we take the Advanced partitioning option. However, I found I could create a root partition smaller than 16GB if I used the Simple partitioning option. Once our partitions are assigned mount points, the installer copies its files to the computer and reboots the system.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • I pushed an implementation of myself to GitHub

        Roughly 4 years ago, I mentioned that there appears to be an esotieric programming language which shares my full name.

        I know, it is really late, but two days ago, I discovered Racket. As a Lisp person, I immediately felt at home. And realizing how the language dispatch mechanism works, I couldn’t resist and write a Racket implementation of MarioLANG. A nice play on words and a good toy project to get my feet wet.

      • digest 0.6.14

        Another small maintenance release, version 0.6.14, of the digest package arrived on CRAN and in Debian today.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) Has Reached End of Life, Upgrade to Ubuntu 17.10 Now

            As of today, January 13, 2018, the Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system has reached end of life and it’s no longer supported by Canonical with security and software updates.

            Released last year on April 13, Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) was the last version of the popular operating system to ship with the Unity 7 desktop environment by default. It was powered by the Linux 4.10 kernel series, Mesa 17.0 graphics stack, and X.Org Server 1.19 display server.

          • Ubuntu 17.10.1 ISOs Now Available To Avoid Thrashing Some UEFI Systems

            Ubuntu 17.10.1 ISOs are now available as well as for most of the *buntu derivatives. The Ubuntu 17.10.1 ISO re-spin is for disabling the SPI kernel driver to avoid messing up select laptops.

          • Ubuntu 17.10.1 Linux Distro Now Available — Download ISO Files And Torrents For All Official Flavors

            In late December, Canonical decided to pull the download links of Ubuntu 17.10 Linux distro. This step was taken following the reports that a bug in UEFI firmware of some laptops from OEMs like Lenovo, Acer, and Toshiba are corrupting the BIOS and making the machine unbootable.

          • Tweaking Ubuntu 17.10 To Try To Run Like Clear Linux

            Even with the overhead of having both KPTI and Retpoline kernel support in place, our recent Linux distribution benchmarks have shown Intel’s Clear Linux generally outperforming the more popular distributions. But if applying some basic performance tweaks, can Ubuntu 17.10 perform like Clear Linux? Here are some benchmarks looking at a few factors.

            In our forums there were recently some users attributing the Clear performance benefit to their CFLAGS and the distribution defaulting to the P-State “performance” governor rather than the “powersave” governor. It’s true those are two of the ways this Intel open-source platform tries to deliver better out-of-the-box performance, but that is not all. Explained at ClearLinux.org, they also apply automatic feedback-driven optimizations (GCC FDO), function multi-versioning (FMV) to deliver optimized functions selected at run-time based upon the CPU micro-architecture being used, and various other approaches for trying to deliver the best out-of-the-box Linux performance that does include backporting various patches, etc. And, yes, hopefully this article can provide some motivation for Ubuntu and other distributions to become a bit more aggressive with their defaults to deliver a more optimized experience on installation.

          • Benchmarking Ubuntu’s Low-Latency Kernel & Liquorix Post-Meltdown

            The Ubuntu low-latency kernel is designed for, well, low-latency workloads like audio processing/recording. The lowlatency kernel compared to the generic Linux x86_64 kernel enables IRQ_FORCED_THREADING_DEFAULT, disables TREE_RCU in favor of PREEMPT_RCU, disables OPTPROBES, enables UNINLINE_SPIN_UNLOCK while disables the INLINE_*_UNLOCK tunables, enables PREEMPT support, changes to 1000Hz tick from 250Hz, and enables LATENCYTOP support.

            The Liquorix kernel continues to be a bit more unique and among its alterations compared to a generic kernel is Zen interactive tuning, making use of the MuQSS process scheduler, hard kernel preemption, BFQ I/O scheduler by default, network optimizations, and more as outlined at Liquorix.net. Liquorix also defaults to CPUFreq on Intel CPUs and uses the ondemand governor rather than the other tested kernels defaulting to P_State powersave.

            For these tests were benchmarks of 4.13.0-25-generic (the current default Ubuntu 17.10 kernel with KPTI patched), 4.14.13-041413-generic as the latest upstream stable kernel from the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA, 4.14.13-041413-lowlatency as the equivalent low-latency Ubuntu kernel, and then 4.14.0-13.1-liquorix as the latest Liquorix kernel via its Launchpad PPA. All of these kernels had KPTI protection present and enabled, none of them currently have the (currently out-of-tree) Retpoline support.

          • Ubuntu 17.10.1 ISOs available with corrupting BIOS fix

            Canonical has a now made Ubuntu 17.10.1 available on its servers but is yet to list it on its main download page as of Saturday evening (GMT). The new ISO comes with the SPI kernel driver disabled in order to avoid damaging the BIOS on some computers. People have been unable to download the latest iteration of Ubuntu for the past three weeks while Canonical fixed the issue.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Xubuntu 17.10.1 Release

              Following the recent testing of a respin to deal with the BIOS bug on some Lenovo machines, Xubuntu 17.10.1 has been released. Official download sources have been updated to point to this point release, but if you’re using a mirror, be sure you are downloading the 17.10.1 version.

              No changes to applications are included, however, this release does include any updates made between the original release date and now.

            • Xubuntu 17.04 End Of Life

              On Saturday 13th January 2018, Xubuntu 17.04 goes End of Life (EOL). For more information please see the Ubuntu 17.04 EOL Notice.

              We strongly recommend upgrading to the current regular release, Xubuntu 17.10.1, as soon as practical. Alternatively you can download the current Xubuntu release and install fresh.

            • Ubuntu Unity Remix Day 3: Unity Tweak Tool

              Do you like customizing Unity desktop using Tweak Tool? Do you like bottom panel (since 16.04 LTS) and custom themes? Good news for you, now we can continue it at Ubuntu Unity Remix 18.04! For you don’t know, Unity Tweak Tool is a program to make it easy for you to custom your Unity desktop. This includes changing theme & icon, changing Launcher transparency & position, customizing the menu/search, desktop animations, and many more. This ‘Day 3′ covers shortly about this Tweak Tool on Unity Remix. Enjoy!

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • A “Newer” ASUS Mini-ITX AMD Motherboard Now Supported By Coreboot

    The ASUS AM1I-A as implied by the name is an AM1 socket motherboard for those Athlon/Sempron processors… Not nearly as exciting as if a Ryzen motherboard would be supported by Coreboot, but this motherboard isn’t too old compared to some other Coreboot ports and can still be found from a few online shops albeit refurbished. The ASUS AM1I-A is a mini-ITX board with USB 3.0, DVI/HDMI/VGA outputs, and all the other usual candidates for an AM1 class motherboard.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • News flash: encrypted.google.com is not special in any way

        Once upon a time, Google dared to experiment with HTTPS encryption for their search instead of allowing all search data to go unencrypted through the wire. For this experiment, they created a new subdomain: encrypted.google.com was the address where your could get some extra privacy. What some people apparently didn’t notice: the experiment was successful, and Google rolled out HTTPS encryption to all of their domains. I don’t know why encrypted.google.com is still around, but there doesn’t seem to be anything special about it any more. Which doesn’t stop some people from imagining that there is.

      • Firefox 59 Is Dropping GTK2 Support

        Now that Firefox’s GTK3 support is finally into shape, Firefox 59 will be doing away with GTK2 tool-kit support.

      • Review of Igalia’s Web Platform activities (H2 2017)

        Last september, I published a first blog post to let people know a bit more about Igalia’s activities around the Web platform, with a plan to repeat such a review each semester. The present blog post focuses on the activity of the second semester of 2017.

      • Mozilla.Org: The Big SUMO Report: 2017

        Just like the year before, our activity and its results could be analysed from many perspectives, with dozens of data sources. Putting everything together, especially given our platform changes in 2018, is quite impossible – and the numbers have been affected by interruptions in tracking, as expected.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Spectre Mitigation Added To GCC 8, Seeking Backport To GCC 7

      Hitting the GCC 8 compiler Git/SVN code this Sunday morning are the changes needed compiler-side for CVE-2017-5715 / Spectre mitigation.

      Veteran GNU toolchain developer H.J. Lu of Intel has committed the set of patches for introducing -mindirect-branch=, -mfunction-return= and -mindirect-branch-register for dealing with indirect branches from the compiler side and is also compiler features already used by the Linux kernel Retpoline patches when built with a supported compiler for full enforcement against Spectre vulnerabilities.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Tony Sebro to Join Conservancy Board of Directors & Outreachy Leadership

      Tony Sebro, who was Conservancy’s second full-time employee, is moving on to become Deputy General Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation, the home of Wikipedia. We say goodbye to Tony as a Conservancy employee today, but more importantly we welcome him to a number of new volunteer roles at our organization.

      Specifically, Conservancy’s Board of Directors has invited Tony to serve as an at-large Director. Tony has also joined the Project Leadership committee of Conservancy’s Outreachy project (our internship program for free and open source software contribution for underrepresented groups). We are thrilled that Tony will continue to contribute his expertise to our organization, and to formalize his participation with our key internship program.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open source model, drugs for the masses

      Nearly one person dies of tubercolosis every two minutes in India, said Professor Jaykumar Menon, the award-winning international human rights lawyer and social entrepreneur. Professor Jaykumar began the Open Source Pharma Foundation, which looks at generating breakthroughs in affordable public healthcare; the initiative has drawn over $110 million in funding the likes of Tata Trusts, Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and the Soros Foundations. Speaking at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bengaluru, Menon said, “We are working on complex issues that affect Indian and global society. Our first target, therefore, is Mycobacterium tubercolosis, which inhabits approximately a quarter of the human population in India.”

    • Open Access/Content
      • #DLNchat: Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Ed

        Can open educational resources, or OER, truly create more equity and access? That was the question at the heart of our #DLNchat on January 9, which centered around OER in Higher Education. Our special guest, Lisa Petrides, creator of OER Commons, kicked things off by defining the topic at hand: “OER are teaching & learning materials freely available for anyone to use. These materials typically reside in the public domain, or have an alternative copyright license, i.e. Creative Commons or GNU, that specify how the resource may be reused, adapted, and shared. To me OER is also about the democratization of access to education, and the pursuit and sharing of knowledge. And the ecosystem of open knowledge sharing is fundamental to teaching, to learning, and to equity.”

  • Programming/Development
    • The Brutal Lifecycle of JavaScript Frameworks

      Using the Stack Overflow Trends tool and some of our internal traffic data, we decided to take a look at some of the more prominent UI frameworks: Angular, React, Vue.js, Backbone, Knockout, and Ember.

    • Visualizing Molecules with Python

      The PyMOL Wiki also hosts a script library, and it’s a good place to look before you start down the road of creating your own script, as someone else may have run into the same issue and may have found a solution you can use. If nothing else, you may be able to find a script that could serve as a starting point for your own particular problem.

      When you’re are done working with PyMOL, there are many different ways to end the session. If there is work you are likely to pick up again and continue with, click File→Save Session to save all of the work you just did, including all of the transitions applied to the view. If the changes you made were actually structural, rather than just superficial changes to the way the molecule looked, you can save those structural changes by selecting File→Save Molecule. This allows you to write out the new molecule to a chemical file format, such as a PDB file.

      If you need output for publications or presentations, a few different options are available. Clicking File→Save Image As allows you to select from saving a regular image file in PNG format or writing out data in a POVRay or VRML 3D file format. If you are doing a fancier presentation, you even can export a movie of your molecule by clicking File→Save Movie As. This lets you generate an MPEG movie file that can be used either on a web-based journal or within a slide deck for a presentation.

Leftovers
  • Ford-backed self-driving car involved in an accident that sent two people to the hospital

    A self-driving car operated by Argo AI, a startup backed by Ford, was involved in an accident in Pittsburgh on Wednesday that sent two people to the hospital, according to The Incline. Early reports suggest the accident was the result of human error.

  • Haste, Waste and Choice

    And there is the crux of the matter, both for technologists and for policy makers: What do we prioritize? We know, and have long known, that optimality and efficiency are the enemies of robustness and resilience. The payback on optimality and efficiency is quantitative, calculable, and central to short-term survivability. The payback on robustness and resilience is qualitative, inestimable, and central to long-term survivability. The field of battle is this: All politics is local; all technology is global.

  • The Strange History of One of the Internet’s First Viral Videos
  • Science
    • Your Position, Triangulated

      The U.S. military needed a way to track the location of submarines, which, by their very nature, are submerged, sometimes for months on end. Being deep in the ocean, of course, has its limits based on what kinds of equipment you can use.

    • Secret Eugenics Conference Uncovered at University College London

      A secret conference on eugenics held by a senior lecturer at the University College London (UCL) is under investigation by the university. The meeting, dubbed the London Conference on Intelligence, has taken place annually since 2014 and is attended by white supremacists with ties to neo-Nazi organizations, London Student revealed on Wednesday (January 10).

    • All Your Memories Are Stored by One Weird, Ancient Molecule

      How does memory work? The further we seem to dive in, the more questions we stumble upon about how the function of memory first evolved. Scientists made a key breakthrough with the identification of the Arc protein in 1995, observing how its role in the plastic changes in neurons was critical to memory consolidation.

      This protein is already a big deal, but the Arc picture just got a lot more interesting. In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, a team of researchers at the University of Utah, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, argue that Arc took its place in the brain as a result of a random chance encounter millions of years ago. Similar to how scientists say the mitochondria in our cells originated as bacteria that our ancient ancestors’ cells absorbed, the Arc protein seems to have started as a virus.

    • Surprise: A virus-like protein is important for cognition and memory

      A protein involved in cognition and storing long-term memories looks and acts like a protein from viruses. The protein, called Arc, has properties similar to those that viruses use for infecting host cells, and originated from a chance evolutionary event that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago.

      The prospect that virus-like proteins could be the basis for a novel form of cell-to-cell communication in the brain could change our understanding of how memories are made, according to Jason Shepherd, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at University of Utah Health and senior author of the study publishing in Cell on Jan. 11.

    • How to see a memory

      For someone who’s not a Sherlock superfan, cognitive neuroscientist Janice Chen knows the BBC’s hit detective drama better than most. With the help of a brain scanner, she spies on what happens inside viewers’ heads when they watch the first episode of the series and then describe the plot.

      Chen, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, has heard all sorts of variations on an early scene, when a woman flirts with the famously aloof detective in a morgue. Some people find Sherlock Holmes rude while others think he is oblivious to the woman’s nervous advances. But Chen and her colleagues found something odd when they scanned viewers’ brains: as different people retold their own versions of the same scene, their brains produced remarkably similar patterns of activity1.

    • The Physicist Building the World’s Most Precise Clock

      We take clocks for granted. In the modern world, time is calculated everywhere we look. If there’s not a watch on your wrist, there’s one on your phone. Most modern computers keep track of the time in the corner of the screen. Appliances from coffee makers to microwaves have a digital readout of the time.

      The measurement of time is ubiquitous, inescapable, and incredibly important. “[The clock] has played an important role in human history,” Jun Ye—who is Adjoint Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado, and a researcher into precision measurement—told me over the phone. “It helped build a more technically advanced society.”

    • How good bacteria control your genes

      Scientists from the Babraham Institute near Cambridge in collaboration with colleagues from Brazil and Italy have discovered a way that good bacteria in the gut can control genes in our cells. The work, published today (9th January) in Nature Communications, shows that chemical messages from bacteria can change the location of key chemical markers throughout the human genome. By communicating in this way, the bacteria may help to fight infections and to prevent cancer.

    • You’re Descended from Royalty and So Is Everybody Else

      Charlemagne, Carolingian King of the Franks, Holy Roman Emperor, the great European conciliator; your ancestor. I am making an assumption that you are broadly of European descent, which is not statistically unreasonable but certainly not definitive. If you’re not, be patient, and we’ll come to your own very regal ancestry soon enough.

    • ‘Gyroscope’ molecules form crystal that’s both solid and full of motion

      Molecular machines, much smaller than single cells, may one day be able to deliver drugs to kill cancer cells or patrol your body for signs of disease. But many applications of these machines require large arrays of rock-hard moving parts, which would be difficult to build with typical biological structures.

      Molecules that makes up the solid crystals found in nature are generally so tightly packed together that there’s no room for any of them to move. So despite their strength and durability, solid crystals have generally not been considered for applications in molecular machines, which must have moving parts that can respond to stimuli.

    • Higher Education Is Drowning in BS

      I have had nearly enough bullshit. The manure has piled up so deep in the hallways, classrooms, and administration buildings of American higher education that I am not sure how much longer I can wade through it and retain my sanity and integrity.

      Even worse, the accumulated effects of all the academic BS are contributing to this country’s disastrous political condition and, ultimately, putting at risk the very viability and character of decent civilization. What do I mean by BS?

      BS is the university’s loss of capacity to grapple with life’s Big Questions, because of our crisis of faith in truth, reality, reason, evidence, argument, civility, and our common humanity.

      BS is the farce of what are actually “fragmentversities” claiming to be universities, of hyperspecialization and academic disciplines unable to talk with each other about obvious shared concerns.

  • Hardware
    • Apple’s Indirect Presence Fades from CES

      Gone are the days of Apple’s presence, or observably “winning” of CES, even though they are not present. It was impossible to walk the show floor and not see a vast array of interesting innovations which touched the Apple ecosystem in some way. Now it is almost impossible to walk the floor and see any products that touch the Apple ecosystem in any way except for an app on the iOS App Store. The Apple ecosystem is no longer the star of CES but instead things like Amazon’s Alexa voice platform, and now Google’s assistant voice platform is the clear ecosystem winners of CES.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • First Nations entrepreneurs are asserting sovereignty and seizing the new cannabis economy

      Jeff Hawk said he was sitting in the lounge area of his dispensary chatting with friends early on Tuesday evening when several assault-rifle wielding Six Nations police officers burst in, ordering everyone to get on the ground.

      Hawk’s dispensary, called Green Health for 6, was the second to be hit by a raid in Six Nations, an Iroquois community near Hamilton, in the space of three months.

    • Supreme Court to Consider Civil Price-Fixing Case Against Chinese Vitamin C Makers

      WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear an antitrust case involving price fixing by Chinese vitamin C makers, agreeing to decide whether U.S. judges must defer to legal submissions made by the Chinese government.

    • State emergency issued as result of flu outbreak in Alabama

      “We have a crisis situation going on” regarding the flu outbreak, said Scott Harris, acting state health officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

      “This is the normal season of the flu,” he said during a Friday afternoon press conference. It is “nothing out of ordinary in the type … but we are seeing large numbers.”

  • Security
    • Meltdown and Spectre FAQ: Crapification at Scale

      Yesterday, Yves posted a “primers on Meltdown and Spectre”, which included several explanations of the two bugs from different viewpoints; if you feel you don’t have a handle on them, please review it. Today, I want to give an overview of the two bugs. I will dig into the details of these two bugs in the form of a FAQ, and then I’ll open a discussion of the larger business and political economy issues raised in the form of a MetaFAQ. First, I should make one point: Meltdown is a bug; Specture is a class of bugs (or, if you prefer, a strategy).

      [...]

      What Are The Costs of the Meltdown and Spectre Bugs?

      A few billions.

    • Fixing Chipmageddon Will Slow Down Older Computers

      Microsoft has come out and said it: cures for the pervasive chip flaws Meltdown and Spectre are likely to dent the performance of your PC if it’s a few years old.

    • Intel needs to come clean about Meltdown and Spectre

      Intel hasn’t had the best of times recently. Meltdown and Spectre security flaws have helped reveal fundamental issues with processor designs over the past 20 years, and the software updates to protect PCs will have performance impacts. Even as I write this, it’s still not clear to anyone exactly how bad these performance impacts will be for older desktop systems, or how significant they’ll be to server-based cloud platforms. It’s all a bit of a mess, and Intel hasn’t helped with its lack of transparency. It’s time for Intel to stop hiding behind cleverly worded statements.

    • Everything running smoothly at the plant? *Whips out mobile phone* Wait. Nooo…

      The security of mobile apps that tie in with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems has deteriorated over the last two-and-a-half years, according to new research.

      A team of boffins from IOActive and IoT security startup Embedi said they had discovered 147 vulnerabilities in 34 of the most popular Android mobile apps for SCADA systems.

      Mobile applications are increasingly being used in conjunction with SCADA systems. The researchers warned these apps are “riddled with vulnerabilities that could have dire consequences on SCADA systems that operate industrial control systems”.

    • Intel details performance hit for Meltdown fix on affected processors
    • Keeping Spectre secret

      When Graz University of Technology researcher Michael Schwarz first reached out to Intel, he thought he was about to ruin the company’s day. He had found a problem with their chips, together with his colleagues Daniel Gruss, Moritz Lipp, and Stefan Mangard. The vulnerability was both profound and immediately exploitable. His team finished the exploit on December 3rd, a Sunday afternoon. Realizing the gravity of what they’d found, they emailed Intel immediately.

    • Intel’s telling some customers to avoid its fix for the Spectre and Meltdown attacks — because of a big bug
    • A Security Issue in Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT)
    • Backdoor In 30 Seconds: New Major AMT Security Flaw Is Here To Haunt Intel Laptops
    • Researcher finds another security flaw in Intel management firmware [Updated]

      If MEBx hasn’t been configured by the user or by their organization’s IT department, the attacker can log into the configuration settings using Intel’s default password of “admin.” The attacker can then change the password, enable remote access, and set the firmware to not give the computer’s user an “opt-in” message at boot time. “Now the attacker can gain access to the system remotely,” F-Secure’s release noted, “as long as they’re able to insert themselves onto the same network segment with the victim (enabling wireless access requires a few extra steps).”

    • Shocking new Intel flaw gives hackers full control of laptops in less than 30 seconds

      Physical access is needed, but to exploit the Intel AMT vulnerability all an attacker needs to do is power up the target machine and press CTRL-P during boot-up, experts said.

    • Why we should all do the boring work of patching our computers

      Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with independent security reporter Brian Krebs, who says that on the scale of one to 10 in terms of how worried he is, this is about an eight.

    • KPTI Support For 64-bit ARM Getting Buttoned Up Ahead Of Linux 4.16

      Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) landed at the start of the year for x86/x86_64 systems for fending off the much talked about CPU attacks while the AMD64 / 64-bit ARM code is still a work-in-progress but looks like it will be squared away for the upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel cycle.

      There is this Git branch and the base work for those wishing to track the last minute alterations. There is currently the latest KPTI page table isolation patches for ARM64 and does include a return trampoline, a new HARDEN_BRANCH_PREDICTOR Kconfig switch, branch predictor hardening for Falkor and Cortex-A CPUs, and other security hardening improvements.

    • ‘Very high level of confidence’ Russia used Kaspersky software for devastating NSA leaks

      Three months after U.S. officials asserted that Russian intelligence used popular antivirus company Kaspersky to steal U.S. classified information, there are indications that the alleged espionage is related to a public campaign of highly damaging NSA leaks by a mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers.

      “That’s a Russian intelligence operation,” a former senior intelligence official, who requested anonymity to speak bluntly, told Yahoo Finance. “They’ve gotten a lot noisier than they used to be.”

    • FOSS Community Struggles to Patch Against Spectre, Meltdown Flaws [Ed: Unlike what? The proprietary software 'community'? Microsoft is bricking Windows-running PCs.]

      Many in the open source community worked feverishly this week to respond to heightened fears that software updates to fix the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities would put millions of computers at risk of slowdowns or even total disability.

    • WPA3 – The Promise of Security
    • Linspire 7.0.1 and Freespire 3.0.1 Released – Meltdown and Spectre fix

      This morning we have released Linspire 7.0.1 and Freespire 3.0.1 . With this release we have addressed the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in Intel Processors. We have included no new features.

    • Black Lab Enterprise Linux 11.51 Released – Meltdown and Spectre Fix

      Today we have released Black Lab Enterprise Linux 11.51. This release addresses the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in Intel Processors. We have included no new features. To apply the fix simply run your system updater and the fix will be applied.

      This update has been thoroughly tested and does not cause any issues or malfunctions

    • At CES, Spectre haunted tech executives in public and private meetings

      Despite being drenched and briefly thrust in to darkness, the largest annoyance for many top tech executives at CES was the shadow of Spectre.

      The world’s largest electronics show immediately careened toward the twin maladies dubbed Spectre and Meltdown, potentially exploitable weaknesses in the brains of PCs and servers world-wide.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Arms sales: Britain increases exports to world’s most repressive regimes by nearly a third since Brexit vote

      Britain has dramatically increased the value of weaponry and defence equipment it sells to the world’s most repressive regimes since vows by senior ministers to expand arms exports after the Brexit vote.

      Figures seen by i show that the Government cleared export licences worth £2.9bn in the 12 months after June 2016 to 35 countries considered “not free” by Freedom House, a respected international think-tank. The figure represents a 28 per cent increase on the 12 months before the Brexit vote.

    • Hawaii ‘ballistic missile threat’ alert to phones was false alarm, officials say

      Residents of Hawaii were thrown into a panic Saturday morning after an emergency alert was sent warning of a ballistic missile threat. But officials minutes later said it was a false alarm.

      “NO missile threat to Hawaii,” the state’s Emergency Management Agency tweeted at 8:20 local time (1:20 ET).

      Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, tweeted: “This is a false alarm. There is no incoming missile to Hawaii.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Burning Iranian tanker explodes and sinks, ‘no hope of finding crew alive’

      An Iranian oil tanker burning for more than a week in the East China Sea exploded and sank on Sunday, Chinese state television reported.
      The Sanchi erupted into flames after colliding with a Hong Kong-registered freighter on January 6, CCTV reported.
      China’s transport ministry said the tanker “suddenly exploded” around noon on Sunday and was quickly engulfed in fire, with the smoke and flames rising as high 1km (3,300 feet).
      An Iranian official also said on Sunday there was no chance of finding alive any of the tanker’s 32 crew members.

    • Fossil fuels blown away by wind in cost terms: study

      According to a new cost analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), within two years “all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range, with most at the lower end or undercutting fossil fuels”.

      It expects renewables will cost between three and 10 US cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) by 2020, while the current cost spectrum for fossil fuel power generation ranges from five to 17 US cents per kWh.

    • 99% of These Sea Turtles Are Turning Female—Here’s Why

      The turtle wranglers landed on Ingram Island thinking about sex and heat.

      Pacific green sea turtles spend years cruising this northern Australia feeding ground, fattening up on sea grasses before heading to nesting areas to mate and lay eggs. The scientists simply wanted to know: which of these reptiles were male and which were female?

      You can’t always tell a sea turtle’s sex by looking, so researchers kicked off a “turtle rodeo.” They stood atop skiffs and raced toward swimming turtles and launched themselves like bull wrestlers onto the animals’ carapaces. After gently steering each turtle to shore, they took DNA and blood samples, and made tiny incisions to inspect turtle gonads.

  • Finance
    • NYC Sues, Divests From Oil Firms Over Climate Change

      New York City is taking on the oil industry on two fronts, announcing a lawsuit Wednesday that blames the top five oil companies for contributing to global warming and saying the city will sell off billions in fossil fuel investments from the city’s pension funds.

      Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio received immediate blowback from some of the companies, while winning praise from environmentalists and others.

      “We’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits,” the mayor said. “As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”

    • Germany has regained its crown as the world’s most powerful passport

      The world’s governments have spoken. Germany’s citizens are the travelers most welcome to cross their borders.

      The Henley Passport Index, an annual ranking of passport power by the citizenship planning firm, came out today for 2018. Germany is at the top for the fifth year in a row, with visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 177 countries, up from 176 last year. (In February 2017, Belarus introduced a five-day visa-free visit available to citizens of 80 countries, including Germany.)

    • The British Once Built a 1,100-Mile Hedge Through the Middle of India

      In 1878, W.S. Halsey, Commissioner of Inland Customs, reported on the state of British India’s giant hedge. The hedge had grown to more than 1,100 miles long, he wrote, long enough to stretch from Berlin to Moscow. More than half of the barrier, Halsey reported, was made up of “perfect and good green hedge” or “combined green and dry hedge.” In parts, it was 12 feet tall and 14 feet across.

      The British Empire had been working on this giant hedge for at least 30 years. It had, at long last, reached “its greatest extent and perfection,” wrote Roy Moxham in The Great Hedge of India. It was an impressive monument to British power and doggedness. One British official wrote that it “could be compared to nothing else in the world except the Great Wall of China.”

    • China Sets New Records for Gobbling Up the World’s Commodities

      China continues to gobble up the world’s commodities, setting new records for consumption of everything from crude oil to soybeans.

      In a year of flux marked by industrial capacity cuts, environmental curbs and financial deleveraging, demand for raw materials has continued to grow in the world’s biggest consumer, helping drive a second annual gain in global commodity returns.

    • Blockchain or Blockheads? Bitcoin Mania Mints Believers and Skeptics

      Sometimes life shows you what absurd really is. This is one of those times. I’m talking about the phenomenon known as Bitcoin, a monetary system based on computation, complex algorithms and — let’s face it — communal delusion.

      You’ve probably heard about this funny money, digital tokens that can be sent securely from computer to computer, with records kept through an online accounting system known as blockchain. (My colleague Nathaniel Popper has been writing great stuff about it.)

      Millions of people now have accounts with Coinbase, the leading marketplace for digital currencies. And the rush into the market has helped push prices up. At the beginning of last year, you could pick up a Bitcoin (not literally, because they’re virtual, DUH) for about a thousand bucks. Its gyrations briefly brought its price near $20,000, according to Blockchain.info, which tracks such things.

    • Theresa May mocked for suggesting Tories to thank for credit card charge ban imposed by EU

      Theresa May has been mocked for claiming credit for an EU policy to protect consumers from rip-off payment card charges.

      Retailers, airlines and other businesses have been banned from hitting shoppers with hidden surcharges when they use credit or debit cards – sometimes as high as 20 per cent – which costs consumers around £166m each year.

      MEPs criticised the Government for claiming responsibility for the move, which comes as part of a broad range of new payment regulations based on an EU–wide directive that was spearheaded by left-wing politicians in the European Parliament.

      The Government must comply with EU directives until Britain leaves the bloc, although these changes will become part of UK law so will remain after Brexit.

    • Our historic Brexit vote could now be reversed, admits Nigel Farage

      Nigel Farage today makes a dramatic admission that the vote for Brexit could be overturned because Remainers have seized control of the argument over Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

      The former Ukip leader told the Observer that he was becoming increasingly worried that the Leave camp had stopped fighting their corner, leaving a well-funded and organised Remain operation free to influence the political and public debate without challenge.

      “The Remain side are making all the running,” said Farage. “They have a majority in parliament, and unless we get ourselves organised we could lose the historic victory that was Brexit.”

      On Thursday Farage angered many Brexiters, and many in Ukip, when he said he was coming round to the view that the country might need to hold a second referendum in order to close down the EU argument for good.

    • Watch This Mesmerizing Video of One Year’s Development in Bitcoin Core

      1 activated soft fork (SegWit) 1,843 pull requests (a formal request to add a contribution) 1,195 pull requests merged (when a contribution is accepted) 21,153 GitHub comments 3,277 commits 161 Git contributors 713 GitHub contributors Bitcoin Development: Decentralized and Open? Or Exclusive?

    • More Americans migrated to Norway than the other way around in 2016

      Norwegians generally live longer than Americans. There’s a generous safety net of health care and pensions. And although it’s pricey, the country last year was named the happiest on Earth.

      President Donald Trump says the United States should take in more Norwegians, but is it any wonder that more Americans are going the other way?

      The country of 5.2 million people that seldom makes global headlines awoke Friday to the news that Trump wanted to have more immigrants from Norway, rather than Haiti and countries in Africa that he disparaged with a vulgar term.

    • Bitcoin Mania

      The first time I bought virtual money, in October 2017, bitcoins, the cryptocurrency everyone by now has heard of, were trading at $5,919.20. A month later, as I started writing this, a single coin sold for $2,000 more. “Coin” is a metaphor. A cryptocurrency such as bitcoin is purely digital: it is a piece of code—a string of numbers and letters—that uses encryption techniques and a decentralized computer network to process transactions and generate new units. Its value derives entirely from people’s perception of what it is worth. The same might be said of paper money, now divorced from gold and silver, or of gold and silver for that matter. Money is a human invention. It has value because we say it does.

      In 2008, when a person or persons going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto published the whitepaper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” bitcoins were worth nothing because they didn’t exist. Three months later, when the first version of bitcoin software was released by Nakamoto and the inaugural bitcoins were traded, they were essentially free. By September 2010, a single bitcoin cost about six cents. By June 2011, it was $22.59. And while the price had its ups and downs, the overall trend was up, up, up. By the end of 2013, as the idea of a currency controlled exclusively by computers running cryptographic algorithms created and traded without the intercession of a central bank, a nation-state, a taxation authority, or any kind of regulation began to take hold, especially among libertarians and those unsettled by the financial crisis, as well as among black-market criminals and terrorists, it was nearly $1,000.* The higher the price, the greater the interest of investors and speculators, which propelled the price even higher.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Scammy Lawyer Award Company Sends C&D To Website For Pointing Out Its Scammy Behavior

      Appealing to someone’s ego is profitable. Lawyers of Distinction names many, many lawyers to its “distinction” list every year. Some people believe this actually means something. But it doesn’t, as Kelsey Butchcoe explained late last year in a post for marketing blog Mockingbird. A lawyer getting a letter from Lawyers of Distinction announcing their selection to the vaunted “top 10%” is, in reality, getting nothing more than unsolicited marketing materials.

      Following up with Lawyers of Distinction provides curious attorneys the opportunity to spend $425-775 annually to obtain plaques, “crystals,” and backlinks to their law firm websites from LoD. Following up further, as Butchcoe did, also uncovers the fact Lawyers of Distinction’s prestigious awards emanate from a UPS Store in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    • Censor Board wasn’t happy with ending of Sholay, had to change it: Ramesh Sippy

      Recalling his own brush with censorship, Sholay director Ramesh Sippy told the audience at the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) how he had to change the ending of the iconic film because the Censor Board did not quite take to the end envisaged by him. Sippy (70), who was awarded the ‘PIFF Distinguished Personality Award’ at the festival, made the revelation while being interviewed by Dr Jabbar Patel, during a PIFF Forum at the Raj Kapoor Pavilion.

    • Ahead of March elections, Egypt extends state of emergency and tightens censorship

      The New York Times reported this week that Egypt ordered a criminal investigation into the paper over its report alleging that an intelligence officer told several TV hosts they should persuade viewers to accept President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The investigation comes in the same week that Egypt’s parliament voted for a third time to extend a state of emergency.

    • Facebook Takes Another Stab at Soft Censorship Through Modified “Trustworthy” Newsfeed

      In a move that is set to infuriate news organizations that are not deemed “trustworthy”, Facebook is set to introduce “sweeping changes” to its newsfeed as early as next week, prioritizing trustworthy sites and removing “clickbait” and low quality news publishers, while promoting posts from friends and family, the WSJ reports.

      Under its new approach, Facebook would evaluate parameters such as public polling about news outlets, and whether readers are willing to pay for news from particular publishers. Such variables would inform its algorithm that determines which publishers’ posts are pushed higher in the feed, one of the people said.

      It is not known how Facebook will decide which publications are deemed trustworthy.

    • Universities have become islands of censorship and propaganda

      The core components of what university is supposed to be about – learning, debating, challenging our own viewpoints – have come under assault from professors, students, and those who do not believe in the exchange of ideas.

      We have come to a time where the university environment doesn’t promote the right to free speech and open debate. This trend has been present across the UK, but notably at some universities in London such as UCL, where an upcoming talk by Israeli speaker Hen Mazzig has come under attack by the UCL Friends of Palestine Society.

    • Book Review: Cultural Stagnation bred by Vietnamese censorship

      Can a nation develop commerce but not its culture? Thomas Bass’ new book Censorship in Vietnam: Brave New World takes a deep dive into the perilous world of Vietnamese expression. It is a country with some of the world’s least penetrable politics.

      A culture of silence dominates the ruling Communist Party, with vital policy discussions among politicians shrouded in secrecy. The few foreign correspondents in the country are mostly kept out of the political loop, left largely with unverifiable rumors as to where power lies in the country.

      Vietnamese citizens have even less information. The details of the party’s business generally are is presumed to be the party’s business alone, with information kept under state control. Save for dissident bloggers on social media, the state effectively silences independent voices through its grip on media.

    • Keeping an ‘i’ out for censorship, no matter vat

      Bollywood has an extra ‘i’ floating around. It came from the movie Padmavati which changed its name by deed poll to Padmavat, and will probably remain that way till someone discovers that ‘vat’ means ‘a large vessel especially for holding liquors in an immature state’.

      And then the manure will hit the fan again. Our queen Padma in a large vessel especially for holding liquors? They will ask before rushing off to burn a bus or two. And which is the immature state? Rajasthan? Bollywood? Is Bollywood a State? While that is being sorted out, they will shut down theatres, talk threateningly of our glorious past, and demand that beef eaters drop all consonants from their names.

    • Censorship wins no arguments and just helps the right

      How you think is as important as what you think. If you believe you can ban your way to victory by mounting heresy hunts against all who veer from the true faith, you will not only deserve to lose by some airy moral reckoning. You will lose whether you deserve to or not. As losing is no longer a trivial event in the age of Brexit and Trump, it is worth understanding the consequences of going beyond the old liberal principle that only demagogues who incite violence should be banned.

      The moral arguments against censorship are so old I can recite them in my sleep. The practical case against a “liberal” movement that reaches for the censor’s red pen like a drunk reaching for a bottle deserves more attention.

    • ‘Shadow banning’: How Twitter secretly censors conservatives without them even knowing it
    • HIDDEN CAMERA: Twitter Engineers To “Ban a Way of Talking” Through “Shadow Banning”
    • Is Twitter Really Censoring Free Speech?
    • Amid Protests, Iran’s Government Censors Its Critics With Chinese-Style Internet Control

      Late last month, as nationwide street protests entered their fourth day, Iran’s interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, issued a statement darkly warning that online social networks in the country were being used to create “violence and fear.” A day earlier, the internet as a whole had briefly flickered offline throughout Iran in what was widely interpreted as a government-engineered throttling. Following Fazli’s statement, the government blocked access to the photo-sharing site Instagram, as well as Telegram, a secure messaging app used by 40 million Iranians per month that had begun to emerge as a key organizing tool for protesters.

      The shutdown of Telegram and the brief closure of the internet as a whole are signs of the Islamic Republic’s increasing technical capacity to manage its citizens’ access to the global web. A new report by the Center for Human Rights in Iran, “Guards at the Gate: The Expanding State Control Over the Internet in Iran,” paints a grim picture of the Islamic Republic’s growing ability to control and stymie the flow of information online.

    • Deadline looms for abortionists to justify video censorship [Ed: The 'pro-lifers' engaging in all sorts of harassment, then claiming to be victims of censorship.]
    • Welcome to new era of global digital censorship

      Score one for the censors.

      In the battle over what limits should be imposed on online free speech, regulators worldwide are on the offensive.

      France has proposed banning so-called fake news during the country’s future elections, while in Germany, new hate speech rules impose fines of up to €50 million on social media companies that don’t delete harmful content within 24 hours of being notified.

      The growing push to control what can be published online will again take center stage this week when the European Commission publishes its biannual report Thursday on how Facebook, Google and Twitter are handling the hate speech lurking in social media’s darker nooks and crannies. (The likely outcome: EU policymakers will complain that companies aren’t doing enough, and threaten them with more regulation.)

    • Musicians need an association: Chief censor

      There should be an association for musicians, says Chief Censor Steven Mala.

      This is also a dream for many musicians, who have been looking to the PNG Censorship Board and the government to assist them with.

      But Mala says the formation of an association has to be an independent one, free from government interference.

    • “Ndizakupanga rape” wakes up sleeping Malawi Censorship Board

      Established under the Censorship and Control of Entertainment Act, the Malawi Censorship Board was given mandate to censor published and other entertainment materials but the board has not always been active.

      The public in Malawi has been fed with materials through publication of books and entertainment materials that raise eyebrows as to whether the censorship board is still operational in the country.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Senate To Vote Tuesday On Surveillance Bill; Four Senators Try To Rally Others To Oppose

      Following yesterday’s bizarre vote in the House, in which many members who opposed President Donald Trump and warn about his abuses of office voted to give him much greater surveillance capabilities, the issue quickly moved to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a procedural move to ensure no amendments are added, and the bill the Senate will vote on will be basically the awful bill in the House.

    • Rights in the age of big data

      “What do judges know that we cannot teach a computer?” There is a substantial public sentiment that distrusts legal rules and state structures and looks to technology for solutions. After all, many trust their smartphones more than they trust their government. But what may seem as a fairly modern libertarian opinion, voiced in pitch decks and technology conferences, and buoyed by the success of the information economy, has much deeper roots. Such ambitions of a technology centric society were voiced more than forty years ago by John McCarthy, an influential computer scientist and professor at Stanford who coined the term, “artificial intelligence”, and nurtured it into a formal field of research. It was not that such assertions were without prominent challengers, noticeably Joseph Weizenbaum whose 1976 book titled Computer Power and Human Reason put people at the centre of technological progress, rather than being its subjects.

    • Apple: Chinese firm to operate China iCloud accounts

      Apple’s iCloud services in mainland China will be operated by a Chinese company from next month, the tech giant has confirmed.

      It has contacted customers based in China, advising them to examine new terms and conditions.

      They include a clause that both Apple and the Chinese firm will have access to all data stored on iCloud.

    • Facebook warned it faces legal action from ‘revenge porn’ victims
    • Aadhaar: Doubts linger

      The planned introduction of a 16-digit “Virtual ID” for Aadhaar may be a good security measure, but it may have been thought of a little too late. The Virtual ID is a clear response to the credibility hit the Aadhaar system and its database faced following the newspaper expose of how it could be breached with an electronic payment to agents selling a gateway for illegal access.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Uber’s Secret Tool for Keeping the Cops in the Dark

      At least two dozen times, the San Francisco headquarters locked down equipment in foreign offices to shield files from police raids.

    • Uber developed secret system to lock down staff computers in a police raid

      Uber developed a secret system called Ripley that would lock down staff computers in the event of a police raid, preventing officials from accessing company data.

      The ride-sharing company used Ripley at least two dozen times in 2015 and 2016 in countries including Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg.

    • A woman’s choice – sexual favours or lose her home

      Across the US, sexual harassment at the hands of landlords, property managers and others in the housing industry can drive poor women and their children into homelessness. It is a problem badly understood and virtually unstudied.
      Khristen Sellers needed a home.
      The previous few years had been a struggle. She’d left an abusive relationship, been arrested, wandered out and then back into her children’s lives. Just as she seemed to be getting back on track, a probation violation sent Sellers to prison for the first time.
      After five months, she returned to her hometown of Laurinburg, North Carolina. She was broke and homeless, starting over at the age of 29. She slept on couches. She got a job at a supermarket, then another at a fast-food restaurant.

    • British worker thrown in Dubai prison for asking crooked car dealer “How do you sleep at night?” message on Whatsapp

      Here’s another reason never to set foot in Dubai: You can be imprisoned for complaining about being ripped off.

    • James Damore’s lawsuit partner says Google is dominated by a racist, man-hating ‘hate group’

      “I don’t hate Google, and I certainly don’t hate the people who work there,” writes Gudeman. “I wouldn’t want this suit to give people a bad opinion of Googlers, but, honestly, they brought this on themselves for tolerating the hatred, racism, and misandry of a small but vocal and organized subgroup who want to use Google as a vehicle of social change rather than as a vehicle of delivering excellent service and products to their customers.”

    • Time’s Up Activists Warn Trump’s “Shithole Countries” Remark Will Embolden White Supremacists

      As outrage grows over President Trump’s “shithole countries” remark, we speak to five women who took part in Sunday’s Time’s Up protest at the Golden Globes: Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement; actress Shailene Woodley; Mónica Ramírez of the National Farmworker Women’s Alliance; Calina Lawrence of the Suquamish Tribe; and Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Susan Collins, Angus King back bill to reverse FCC vote against net neutrality

      “The FCC’s recent action to repeal net neutrality threatens to undermine its positive impact by stifling innovation and putting access and connection speeds for sale to the highest bidder,” said King in a prepared statement. “It is crucial we defend net neutrality and I will work to ensure that this misguided repeal is never implemented.”

      Collins said through a spokeswoman, Annie Clark, that she also would support Markey’s legislation.

    • Comcast’s Sneaky Cable Fees Have Jumped 241% in the Last Three Years

      Thanks to limited competition, Comcast has also slowly but surely imposed arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees on its broadband subscribers as well. Such restrictions not only make broadband more expensive overall, but Comcast tends to exempt its own streaming services from the limits, making it a wonderful way to hamstring competing services that still count against the cap (aka zero rating).

    • Colorado Cities Keep Voting To Build Their Own Broadband Networks

      So we’ve long mentioned how incumbent ISPs like Comcast have spent millions of dollars quite literally buying shitty, protectionist laws in more than twenty states. These laws either ban or heavily hamstring towns and cities from building their own broadband networks, or in some cases from even engaging in public/private partnerships. It’s a scenario where ISPs get to have their cake and eat it too; they often refuse to upgrade their networks in under-served areas (particularly true among telcos offering DSL), but also get to write shitty laws preventing these under-served towns from doing anything about it.

      This dance of dysfunction has been particularly interesting in Colorado, however. While lobbyists for Comcast and CenturyLink managed to convince state leaders to pass such a law (SB 152) in 2005, the legislation contains a provision that lets individual Colorado towns and cities ignore the measure with a simple referendum. With frustration mounting over sub-standard broadband and awful customer service, more than 100 towns and cities have done so thus far.

    • Harvard Study Shows Why Big Telecom Is Terrified of Community-Run Broadband

      According to the new study by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, community-owned broadband networks provide consumers with significantly lower rates than their private-sector counterparts.

    • With new Chinese link, Nepal ends India’s Internet monopoly

      More than 60 per cent of Nepal’s 28 million people had access to the Internet last year, up from just 19 per cent in 2012.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Protection for GUIs restricted to specific hardware carriers in China

      A recent court case in China has clarified the scope of protection afforded by registered designs for graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

      In recent years, intellectual property laws in various countries have been changed to extend the protection afforded by registered designs (which protect the appearance of products) to GUIs. This enables protection to be sought for the appearance of software on a display screen (e.g. in the form of icons, etc.), which is of increasing importance in the world of smartphones and tablets.

      [...]

      Thus, it seems unlikely that it will be possible to obtain a valid right for a registered design directed solely to a GUI in China, without its accompanying hardware carrier being shown. However, partial design protection in available in other countries, e.g. in the EU. This means that registered design protection for GUIs on their own (without their carrier) may be validly obtained outside of China.

    • Copyrights
      • Swedish Supreme Court confirms that domain names constitute property that can be seized by the state

        The saga behind the decision I am going to report on first started in April 2015, when prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad directed claims against Fredrik Neij (one of the creators of The Pirate Bay) in an effort to disrupt the operation of The Pirate Bay website in Sweden.

        Ingblad also filed a complaint against Punkt SE (IIS), the organisation responsible for Sweden’s .se top-level domain. Mr Ingblad argued that the domains ‘ThePirateBay.se’ and ‘PirateBay.se’ were used as “tools” to aid and abet copyright infringement and should therefore be seized by the Swedish state.

      • Ed Sheeran-Penned Song for Tim McGraw Is Target of Copyright Lawsuit

        Richard Busch, who successfully won a trial for the family of Marvin Gaye in the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit, is representing the plaintiff. The Nashville-based attorney previously took on Sheeran in a $20 million copyright lawsuit over another hit, “Photograph.” That case ended in a settlement that resulted in two suing songwriters being added to credits and gaining a significant share of royalties.

        Now, with song theft allegations continuing to draw great attention (see the fuss this week over how the publisher of Radiohead’s “Creep” is making legal demands over Lana Del Rey’s “Get Free”), three music superstars along with co-writers Johnny McDaid and Amy Wadge as well as music industry giants Sony/ATV, Universal Polygram, WB Music plus others must respond to new charges of ripping off material. In this case, it’s alleged that the copying was fully known by employees of Sony Music.

      • Commission claims that general monitoring is not general monitoring

        Will everything we do on the internet be monitored and checked against by a non-transparent mechanism that decides what can be published? It is a real threat, and currently it is coming from an area that patently does not require such draconian measures: EU copyright law. This threat is a peculiar one, because there are actually explicit safeguards in existing EU law designed to prevent general monitoring of users’ communications.

      • Coalition Against Piracy Launches Landmark Case Against ‘Pirate’ Android Box Sellers

        The recently-formed Coalition Against Piracy, which counts Disney, Fox, Sony, HBO, NBCUniversal, BBC Worldwide and StarHub among its members, will tread new ground today when it attempts a private prosecution of ‘pirate’ Android box sellers in Singapore. In what many believe is a legal gray area, the anti-piracy outfit will seek a win in order to suppress further sales in the region.

      • Netflix, Amazon, and major studios sue maker of “free TV” box

        The Dragon Box uses Kodi and Android software to help users access video, and the Dragon Box website says the device “acts merely as an index (or directory) of media posted by other enthusiasts on the Internet, which is completely outside of our control.”

      • Are Torrent Sites Using DMCA Notices to Quash Their Competition?

        It’s well known that copyright holders can use DMCA notices to remove infringing content from search engines such as Google. However, it appears that torrent sites are also being targeted by fraudulent requests, possibly submitted their own competitors.

      • ISP: We’re Cooperating With Police Following Pirate IPTV Raid

        This week police across Europe coordinated to shut down what is claimed to be one of the world’s largest pirate IPTV networks. Following raids in Cyprus, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Greece, TorrentFreak identified the ISP from where the illicit operation allegedly broadcast to the world. Located in a small Bulgarian town, the ISP says it is cooperating with the police to identify the suspects.

PTAB is Being Demeaned, But Only by the Very Entities One Ought to Expect (Because They Hate Patent Justice/Quality)

Sunday 14th of January 2018 10:56:02 PM

The ‘natural enemies’ of a high-quality patent system keep weeping

Summary: The latest rants/scorn against PTAB — leaning on cases such as Wi-Fi One v Broadcom or entities like Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Apple etc. — are all coming from firms and people who profit from low-quality patents

THE excellent work of the patent appeal board in the US (at the USPTO it’s referred to as PTAB, similar but not analogous to BoA at the EPO) has attracted the wrath of patent maximalists. They cannot tolerate the concept of quality control or reassessment of patents they (or more typically their clients) were granted in the past. This is expected. The harder they resist, the more they’ve been hurt. And the goal ought to be decimating their role in this system because they tend to contribute nothing but feuds and FUD.

How about this from Adam Mossoff? His attacks on PTAB are a good sign because he is notorious for promoting everything that’s wrong in the patent system. He’s just working for a Conservative think tank serving patent trolls and the litigation ‘industry’. As this tweet put it, Mossoff says that the “@uspto’s #patent review board is denying basic rights to American innovators.”

What basic rights? Patents? They’re not rights. Drop this myth. They typically try to call patents “property” (which they're not) and then allude to “property rights” or whatever. Intellectually-dishonest garbage that Koch-funded ‘academics’ would say…

Let’s see who else it’s moaning about PTAB because that’s just pretty revealing. One site of the patent microcosm complained about PTAB’s inter partes reviews (IPRs) a few days ago. “Like many inter partes reviews,” it said, a “dispute started in district court. Multiple IPRs from the defendants followed: this petition against claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 8,155,298, from Bright House Networks, WideOpen West Finance, Knology of Florida, and Birch Communications; another by the same parties against claim 20; a third by YMax against claims 1 and 20; and two more against related patents.”

And guess what happened. It’s gone! Good riddance. At low cost. This is what makes PTAB so important.

By contrast, IP Watch‘s Steven Seidenberg wrote about Oil States (a case about IPRs, indirectly affecting the Kochs). “The upcoming decision in Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group could have major ramifications for patents, copyrights, trademarks, and the USPTO,” he said. This is the main reason for lobbying from the likes of IAM and Watchtroll. They hope to change the outcome to stop or slow down PTAB. They want not only to weaken PTAB but to obliterate it. Earlier today Watchtroll wrote: “The Supreme Court had a lot to chew on last year, in part because so many issues were percolating at the Federal Circuit. In addition, the Supreme Court tends to reach consensus (or something closer to consensus) in patent cases, making them great issues for the court to consider when it sat with a vacancy last year. But based on our look at what’s sitting before the Federal Circuit now, there simply aren’t as many “big picture” issues warranting high court attention. And so, despite the high reversal rate, we doubt that the Supreme Court will show too strong an interest in taking patent cases for the following term.”

And then starts the PTAB bashing, which has become a daily routine at Watchtroll. One does not even need to look far back. Here’s Watchtroll’s attack on PTAB from 4 days ago, 3 days ago, and another one earlier today (second in a day and it’s a Sunday!) — already cited by some of the most extreme people (those who support trolls). Obviously, Watchtroll will attack PTAB again almost every day this month; Patently-O too used to do that for a while. Why? Because to these people, who make money from patent disputes, patent quality is the enemy.

One of the latest strategies for discrediting PTAB is latching onto the Native American tribes or even Apple. Some extremists keep linking to Law.com, which published two pieces about it before the weekend [1, 2]. It looks like Apple bashes a PTAB panel when the outcome does not suit Apple, so cherry-pickers now use that as ‘proof’ that PTAB must be corrupt. Law.com said: “Apple claims that its opponent contacted senior administration officials and the judges presiding over the case, swaying the outcome of an inter partes review proceeding.”

Would a site of the patent microcosm add an attack on PTAB? Of course it would. They all do. “IPRs Are the Best—Except When They’re Biased, Prejudiced and Violate Due Process,” says a sensationalist headline. The EFF’s Vera Ranieri responded by saying: “What’s clear from this PTAB story and the one with the Tribe is that the PTAB needs clearer rules and more transparency as to how it operates. Conspiracies will breed where facts are kept hidden.”

She was alluding to another case that is mentioned spuriously and that we already covered last weekend. IAM keeps kicking this dead horse by writing about it:

The company, which bills itself as a “global leader in cost-efficient technology that enables high-volume text, voice and digital multi-media communications”, has accused Apple of infringing its IP in a district court action and has demanded $2.8 billion in damages. It has been on a remarkable run at the PTAB as it has looked to defend its rights, fighting off eight reviews brought not only by Apple, but also the likes of Unified Patents and AT&T. According to Lex Machina, of the eight IPRs that have been filed against Voip-Pal’s patents, six were denied institution while two (including the one in question here) had all of their claims upheld following institution.

That’s a record which suggests that the company has some very good quality grants; but the latest motion from the Cupertino-based tech giant shows the degree to which it, arguably more than any other defendant, is prepared to fight its corner in infringement disputes.

Citing Watchtroll, as usual, other defenders of patent trolls try to scandalise PTAB (using Voip-Pal for instance). Their ultimate goal it to lower patent quality, help trolls, and enrich themselves. Such patent zealots would still (never mind the tribe) come up with conspiracy theories (from which the tribes feed), so there’s a cyclic flow here or a loop. Sites like Watchtroll accuse PTAB of corruption, tribe lawyers then repeat that, and in turn sites like Watchtroll repeat what the lawyers say.

Regarding these lawyers, Michael Loney wrote about it in short form a few days ago. The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has become a laughing stock for participating in a patent scam — a scam which is still being defended by the patent microcosm. Here’s one new example:

As previously reported, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe filed a request for oral hearing that included a “request for discovery into the identity and impartiality of the merits panel assigned to this case.” The paper was replete with justifications for its request and specific discovery it was seeking, all premised on its apprehension that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) might deprive the Tribe of due process by, inter alia, empaneling an expanded panel of Board members (including specifically Chief Administrative Patent Judge David Ruschke) that would not be impartial in deciding whether the Tribe’s sovereign immunity precluded the Board from deciding on the validity of the patents (U.S. Patent Nos. 8,629,111; 8,633,162; 8,642,556; 8,648,048; 8,685,930; and 9,248,191) involved in the consolidated IPRs.

They just want to be exempted from the law and let a private company ‘borrow’ this immunity in exchange for money. How is that not a scam?

The scam is not PTAB but those who try hard to destroy or avoid it.

Saurabh Vishnubhakat recently wrote about Wi-Fi One v Broadcom (a case which concerns PTAB). This too mentioned another form of immunity: “The decision in Wi-Fi One v. Broadcom is the first real test, following Cuozzo, of the broad view that the Patent Office has taken of its immunity from judicial review in PTAB institutions. Going forward, it will likely be the dialogue between the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court that defines the full contours of the agency’s discretion.”

Well, the Supreme Court will rule on IPRs within several months. No doubt the outcome can be swayed by online dialog and sites of private companies like this one will meddle as much as they can. Here they are saying that “Patent Office employees are creatures of incentives.”

Well, calling them creatures and all that shows how parent microcosm views them. Here’s the portion with its entire context:

Patent Office employees are creatures of incentives. It is well-known that patent examiners earn various counts for use in the USPTO’s internal quota system. PTAB judges are also measured by a count-based system, which is based on the number of decisions they author. It is no secret that Examiners and PTAB judges at times get creative with policies and practices to most easily meet their quotas. Here, we look at a recent decision that shows a practice of PTAB judges deciding only one ground of rejection without looking to the remaining pending ground on appeal.

USPTO examiners are incentivised to grant as much as possible, so what’s wrong with PTAB working in an opposite fashion to balance or negate that? For the patent microcosm, for obvious reasons, it’s only granting — not rejections — that brings a lot of money. If the goal of the US patent system is just to blindly grant as many patents as possible, then PTAB is harmful; but if the US patent system seriously strives for quality and justice, then PTAB isn’t just desirable but essential.

It’s not hard to see why PTAB faces resistance. The question is, who from?

If Ericsson and Its Patent Trolls (Like Avanci and Unwired Planet) Cannot Make It, the Patent Microcosm Will Perish

Sunday 14th of January 2018 09:59:01 PM

Related: Ericsson Hired From the World’s Largest Patent Troll and Became a Massive Troll in Europe

Summary: The demise of patent-asserting/patent assertion business models (trolling or enforcement by proxy) may see front groups/media supportive of it diminishing as well; this appears to be happening already

THE US Supreme Court did quite a lot in recent years in order to stave off patent maximalism. For that we are grateful. Last year it gave us TC Heartland, which is already having a profoundly positive effect.

Sites like IAM may soon ebb away. They’re like lobbyists. Some sites like these already struggle (go silent or barely post anything new) because they rely on patent maximalism and trolls (which they promote).

“Sites like IAM may soon ebb away.”“IP Bridge is the latest Japanese patent owner to join Avanci,” IAM wrote some days ago, “as JPO continues to mull SEP guidelines” and here is the corresponding article. What the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) failed to say is that Avanci is a troll, headed by a person whom IAM recently crowned personality of 2017 (as gross as that notion may be). Here is what IAM wrote:

I recently caught up with IP Bridge executive vice president and CIPO Duke Ogata and we talked through the fund’s decision to throw its lot in with Kasim Alfalahi’s team, and how it fits into their long-term strategy. He was very clear about what signal the decision should send to the market, both inside Japan and outside: “IP Bridge has always tried to promote innovation in the Internet of Things. We don’t want to be an obstacle to spreading or disseminating IoT technologies. That was our motivation to join”.

“IoT” is just one of these buzzwords we mentioned earlier today; these are often a shallow mask for software patents.

“Companies like Ericsson, which essentially became patent trolls, are paying to mislead us all.”Alfalahi has come from Ericsson, which now operates through several patent trolls. Here is that buzzword again: “The @LESIntl les Nouvelles Article of the Month is ” #SMEs & Standard Essential #Patents: #Licensing Efficiency in #IoT (Internet of Things),” by Harris Tsilikas and Claudia Tapia. #LESGermany https://www.lesi.org/les-nouvelles/les-nouvelles-article-of-the-month …”

Claudia Tapia is Director IPR Policy at Ericsson and SEP is inherently anti-SME (or SME-hostile). Companies like Ericsson, which essentially became patent trolls, are paying to mislead us all. They know they cannot just attack everyone directly, so they operate through satellites and engage in patent stacking (a legal term describing exactly what they have been up to).

One well known satellite of Ericsson is now known as Unwired Planet (this troll used to be known as all sorts of other things, including Openwave). Here is a new article about TCL v Ericsson and its relevance to Unwired Planet, as explained some days ago by the patent microcosm:

The fourth US bench trial to determine a FRAND royalty is the first to use a top-down approach. It also has parallels to the UK’s Unwired Planet decision

Judge James Selna gave patent practitioners some holiday reading on December 21 when the public version of his fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) determination in TCL v Ericsson was released.

This is considered to be bad news. If Ericsson cannot pull off these tricks, perhaps nobody else can. Meanwhile, the number of articles and authors in the sites above has dropped; a large number of writers may already have left. That’s certainly true when it comes to IAM. Our prediction is that they will become obsolete.

European Patent Office Causes Physical Harm to Employees, Then Fires Them

Sunday 14th of January 2018 08:11:03 PM

Related:

Summary: Another one (among many) EPO documents about the alarming physical wellbeing of EPO employees and the management’s attitude towards the issue

I. The EPO Health Insurance: II. Making Us Sick And Making Us Pay For It?

Summary

The administration has submitted a document to the next GAC which proposes amongst others to effectively remove the 2.4% (of basic salary) ceiling on the Vanbreda staff contribution. The staff representation considers such a proposal inappropriate and premature at a time when the alternative solutions (e.g. the internal insurance) unanimously agreed by the Vanbreda working group have not yet been implemented. More importantly, however, the staff representation strongly opposes any increase in staff costs as long as the Office neglects its duty of care towards staff by not protecting staff health and not implementing essential parts of the EPO health policy.

A. INTRODUCTION

In 2007, after a decade of nagging by the staff representation, the Office finally introduced a health policy and founded an occupational health department. The health departments have, however, been understaffed from the very beginning. Repeated requests from the staff representation to provide the newly hired occupational health physicians temporarily with a project manager to help them set up their departments were refused with the effect that they spent most of their first year battling their way through the Office’s red tape in order to order their material, hire staff etc. Two years later “sick leave management”, essentially: staying in touch with sick staff in order to offer support for a return to work1, is in place. The ergo-WUC network has also largely been reactivated and “work-pace” soft-ware has been made available to staff. But more remains to be done.
_____
1 Contact with the Occupational Health Service is voluntary. If you feel that the contact is not helpful for you, you need not continue. The Occupational Health Service furthermore cannot challenge sick leave (full-time or part-time) prescribed by your treating physician. Only the Medical Advisor to the Administration (Dr. Koopman) can verify sick-leave, following the procedure foreseen under Art. 62(nn) of the ServRegs.

B. UPPER LIMB DISORDERS

In 2004, TNO2 found that a whopping 39% of the EPO staff suffered from Upper Limb Disorder3 (ULD), and that 19% had been treated for those complaints. Even the best ergo-WUC is helpless when faced with un-ergonomic software, especially when combined with long hours on the computer and high work pressure. Since 2004 our software has not improved significantly from an ergonomic point of view, the time spent on the computer has not diminished, and neither has the work pressure. There is thus no reason to believe that the situation has improved insofar as ULD / RSI is concerned4.

We note that the EPO’s health policy prescribes regular risk analyses. These should include a follow-up on the TNO study. The Occupational Health Department is working on a proposal for a risk analysis. However, none has been made thus far and, obviously, any follow-up in practical measures is even further away.

The major overhaul of the Office’s computer systems now planned could provide an opportunity to greatly improve the ergonomics of the Office’s software. We do not, however, have much evidence that ergonomics has a very high priority compared to e.g. (perceived) “efficiency”. In particular: we have seen no clear ergonomics policy or guidelines for the soft-ware, we have not seen a dedicated budget etc.

C. PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS

Another major factor for staff ill-health, and apparently the most frequent cause of invalidity, are psychological problems. It is our impression that a high percentage of these problems are caused by, or at least aggravated by the Office, in particular by a frequently inappropriate management style at all levels. This is confirmed by all psychosocial studies done so far, including the staff surveys, and also by the psychiatrist5 whom the staff representation advises to staff in need of support. Our highest management displays a serious lack of understanding of, and respect for, the work of the EPO staff. Constant, badly thought-through changes in working methods and tools, constant reorganisations and more recently: a constant threat to the working conditions make things worse. For some staff the situation is further aggravated by the Office’s inability or unwillingness to control and take measures against line managers who cause serious distress to their subordinates. Last but not least, there is furthermore a lack of effective support for staff with work-place related health problems. In particular for examiners there are no alternatives for search and examination work. A high work diversity (search and examination for examiners, several “procedures” for formalities staff, a whole range of services for staff in the Personnel Dept. etc.) is asked from all staff, including staff in bad health. The department as a whole is furthermore penalized for keeping sick staff on board on reduced time and/or capacity since the number of budgeted posts has been reduced to the minimum and there are no super-numery posts for staff with reduced capacity. Simpler work elsewhere is no longer available since almost all such work has been out-sourced. The above deficiencies seriously hinder effective reintegration and contribute to high sick leave and invalidity levels.

We note that a psychosocial health risk management, starting with a psychosocial health risk analysis, is now generally considered an integral part of any modern staff health policy. Extensive

____
2 TNO report
3 also called RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)
4 Dr. Bosch expresses the opinion that the level of RSI has gone down based on the lower number of complaints received by her department. This can, however, have other reasons like staff with long-term complaints no longer seeking advise from the Occupational Health department.
5 Report Dr. Teuschel, 2008

information about psychosocial health management is provided by World Health Organisation6. We are, however, not aware that the Office has undertaken any serious initiatives in this respect. On the contrary: existing psychosocial support staff (by the Personnel Department, Amicale, Kids e.a.) is constantly under threat of budgetary savings.

D. THE PRICE TO PAY

Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that the sickness and invalidity figures in the Office are relatively high. This in turn leads to relatively high costs, in particularly in Munich where the charges made by the medical establishment are higher than in most of the other places of employment. In order to address these specific local problems, the staff committee has repeatedly requested support from the Office against medical doctors who are blatantly over-charging, but staff is still left to struggle on their own with bloated invoices and aggressive “Abrechnungsstelle”. Similarly we have asked for a “white list” of reasonably priced doctors and ideally “preferred providers” near the Office buildings to whom staff can go, if they so wish. Thus far no progress has been made in this respect.

We note that e.g. the EU has a separate insurance for the costs incurred due to accidents at work and/or occupational disease, which is entirely funded by the employer. It stands to reason that health costs that have been caused through the work are carried by the employer. This also provides a motivation for the employer to keep the working place as healthy as possible (the sort of direct link between “performance” and “pay” that the Office seems to favour for its staff!).

E. THE OFFICE’S “CURE”

The “cure” proposed by our administration is, however, neither improving the health of the staff through improved prevention at work, nor taking over the costs of work-related health problems: the Office is proposing to make staff pay for the consequences of the increase in health costs. Already working spouses have been excluded from cover or been made to pay. As a next step the Office proposes the removal of the 2.4% of basic salary as the ceiling on the staff contribution. The next in line are the pensioners who will be charged a percentage of their final salary rather than a percentage of their actual pension, as well as spouses of pensioners who will have to make use of their primary insurance.

Whereas we would possibly understand such measures if everything else, in particular all more reasonable measures (e.g. the 6 unanimous measures of the Vanbreda working group), had been tried first and costs would remain well above the ceiling for several years, at this stage such measures are inappropriate:

at present the Office is making us sick and making us pay for it!

If the legislator has built in a ceiling then the intention must have been to protect staff from higher charges and to force the Office to manage staff health correctly. The latter has clearly not been done: a health policy has been adopted but essential parts such as risk analyses and management have not been implemented.

The staff representation therefore demands that the Office:

1) awaits the effect of the cost-saving measures already taken (amongst others increased reliance on the primary insurance),
2) implements the 6 further measures7 unanimously agreed by the Vanbreda working group, and awaits their effectiveness, and
3) awaits the full effective implementation of the OH policy,

_____
6 PRIMA-EF brochures
7 e.g. the self-insurance, which should save around 1,5 million Euro per year; see su09117cp

before considering introducing further changes in the financing of the EPO health insurance scheme that negatively affect staff, either in the short term or in the longer term.

The Staff Committee will reiterate this position in the GAC that takes place in the second week of September and, if necessary, again in the October Budget and Finance Committee and Administrative Council meetings. If all this will be in vain we will file internal appeals. In our opinion such appeals would have a good chance of success.

Battistelli Was Always (Right From the Start and Since Candidacy) All About Money

Sunday 14th of January 2018 07:33:33 PM

Financially prudent, except when handing out cash 'gifts' for votes and secretly building himself a penthouse with a pub

Original: Presidential candidates set out their vision for the EPO | full article (copy)

Summary: “I have always admired creative people, inventors, those who, through their passion and their work, bring about scientific progress or artistic evolution. I was not blessed with such talent myself,” explained the EPO‘s President when pursuing his current job (for which he was barely qualified and probably not eligible because of his political work)

“Under the Intergovernmental EPC System It is Difficult to Speak of a Functional Separation of Powers”

Sunday 14th of January 2018 06:46:27 PM

Original: English [PDF]

Summary: An illustration of the glaring deficiency that now prevails and cannot be tolerated as long as the goal is to ensure democratic functionality; absence of the role of Separation of Powers (or Rule of Law) at the EPO is evident now that Battistelli not only controls the Council (using EPO budget) but also blatantly attacks the independence of the Boards of Appeal

The Patent Microcosm Thinks It’s Wonderful That IP3 is Selling Stupid Patents, Ignores Far More Important News

Sunday 14th of January 2018 04:57:35 PM

Ignoring the ‘elephant’ in the room to obsess over something rather minor

Summary: IP3, which we've always considered to be nothing but a parasite, does what it does best and those who love stupid patents consider it to be some sort of victory

It’s 2018 now. Wow. We’re nearly 4 years after Alice. Free/libre software is everywhere (servers, desktops, mobile devices) and most coders share their code, so what good are software patents anyway? They’re barely even enforceable when code is exchanged in this fashion. Such patents clearly harm the profession which is software development (coding/hacking/programming), yet law firms promote these patents wholeheartedly. In spite of Section 101, which the high court repeatedly cited when it rejected software patents last year. Watchtroll is still struggling to come to grips with it. These people clearly lose the battle.

“Free/libre software is everywhere (servers, desktops, mobile devices) and most coders share their code, so what good are software patents anyway?”It’s no surprise really. Software developers want to produce software; lawyers, on the other hand, want to ‘produce’ lawsuits (which developers hate). High courts increasingly ‘get’ that and they rule accordingly. The EFF now talks about the subject, rightly naming “Stupid Software Patents” in this headline which is days old. Daniel Nazer wrote about AlphaCap, which we covered several times last year. Quoting Nazer:

This case began when a patent troll called AlphaCap Ventures sued Gust, a company that connects startups with investors around the world. Claiming its patent covered various forms of online equity financing, AlphaCap Ventures filed suit against ten different crowdfunding platforms. Most of the defendants settled quickly. (In many patent troll suits, even when the patent is very weak, the high cost of litigation pressures defendants to settle.) But Gust fought back. Faced with a defendant willing to actually challenge its patent, AlphaCap Ventures eventually dismissed its claim. The district court ruled that AlphaCap Ventures’ attorneys had litigated unreasonably and ordered them to pay Gust’s attorneys’ fees. The lawyers then appealed.

In their appeal, AlphaCap Ventures’ attorneys argue that the law of patent eligibility—particularly the law regarding when a claimed invention is an abstract idea and thus ineligible for patent protection—is so unsettled that a court should never award fees when a party loses on the issue. Our brief argues that this would be a very dangerous rule. Certainly, some patent eligibility questions are difficult. But that does not mean all eligibility questions are difficult. Our brief explains that many of the most prolific trolls have made objectively unreasonable eligibility arguments. Indeed, district courts have already awarded fees in a few cases where trolls made unreasonable arguments regarding patent eligibility under Alice.

The patent microcosm hates the EFF with a great passion; not only does it repeatedly mock the EFF (they mock us too, but we don’t give them the attention they crave) and the EFF already got sued several times for its “Stupid Patent of the Month” series (in every case so far the EFF has won the case/s; sometimes the case/s get dropped).

The other day we saw IAM, which promotes patent trolls, saying this:

It was an @EFF Stupid Patent of the Month in April 2016, now it’s been sold at the IP3 auction. Maybe not so stupid after all

So what?

“Stupid patents too can be used for bullying when the target of patent trolling is poor,” I told IAM, and thus “cannot pay for court” (fees). What IAM hopes for is a sort of generalisation that serves to discredit both the “Stupid Patent of the Month” series and all articles about patents which were previously described as “stupid”.

“Sometimes the patent trolls bash the EFF directly, not through their megaphones/front groups (like IAM).”IAM also said: “Results from latest IP3 #patent auction are starting to trickle out including news of a deal for a former “stupid patent of the month””

See how IAM is bashing the EFF? Sometimes the patent trolls bash the EFF directly, not through their megaphones/front groups (like IAM).

Here is what IAM wrote about it (a whole long blog post):

There’s not a huge amount of information publicly available on the company except that it’s registered in Texas, its IP appears focused on speech recognition technology and its portfolio was assigned to it by Empire IP, an NPE headed by a couple of former New York-based patent lawyers. Voice2Text was also in the spotlight in 2016 as it filed a series of five infringement suits, two against a company called Mutare Inc, and the rest against USCC Services LLC, Onvoy LLC and Phone.com Inc. All of them had reached a conclusion by the second half of 2016 or start of 2017.

Those suits did ensure that Voice2Text garnered some notoriety as one of its patents – no. 8,914,003 – which uses speech recognition to convert a voicemail into a text message, was featured as the EFF “Stupid Patent of the Month” back in April 2016. The advocacy group, a strong and long-time supporter of major patent reform in the US, makes it award to those grants that it deems to be particularly suspect.

So someone has just wasted money on bogus, worthless patents. So what? What we see here is a desperate attempt to insinuate that when a patent gets sold it suddenly gives that patent legitimacy. Where’s the logic in that? It’s not like the patent has just been tested in a lengthy court battle with appeals and expert testimonies.

Desperate attempts to get past TC Heartland could also be seen a few days ago when Docket Report wrote:

The court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss for improper venue because defendant did not have a regular and established place of business in the district through its use of an online retailer’s fulfillment centers.

The court did the right thing. It denied the effort to sue – using potentially “stupid” patents – in trolls-friendly/plaintiff-friendly districts. Don’t expect sites like Watchtroll or IAM to cover that. They’d rather pretend it didn’t happen and obsesses about the mere sale of one patent among millions (in an auction where sale prices can even be $1).

Automotives, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 Among the Buzz Terms Used to Bypass Alice and the EPC Nowadays

Sunday 14th of January 2018 03:37:24 PM

The next generation of “over the Internet” or “on a computer”


The EPO’s examination division inspects prior art/dossiers. But does that do the job or just wrongly reinforces that idea (assuming consistency in terminology)?


Source: Presentation from Steffen Wolf [PDF]

Summary: In order to make prior art search a lot harder and in order to make software patents look legitimate (even in various courtrooms) the patent microcosm and greedy patent offices embrace buzzwords

THE EPO does not formally permit software patents. The USPTO still grants some, but like the EPO it requires that people disguise the ‘invention’ being software. This can be accomplished in all sorts of ways; first of all, they don’t use the word “software” and instead use words like “invention” along with mumbo-jumbo like “technical effect”. That in its own right can help mislead examiners who work in a rush with unrealistic quotas/demands.

“What happens when notorious buzzwords (which typically lack any concrete meaning) are introduced?”The images above, extracted from a staff survey (responses in English and German [PDF] and an old presentation from Steffen Wolf of the EPO), remind us of how EPO workers assess (or assessed) prior art etc. Some of them used to complain that semi-automated (or human-aided algorithms) would fail to identify prior art because of homonyms and synonyms. It requires an actual domain expert to assess.

What happens when notorious buzzwords (which typically lack any concrete meaning) are introduced? That seems to be happening a lot these days. Case of point? This new IAM interview which is promotion of an upcoming IAM event (for the patent microcosm). Like the EPO, these people use words like “Internet of Things/Industry 4.0 realm” (whatever that practically means; that typically alludes to old-fashioned devices with an on-board Internet/networking stack). That’s exactly how EPO management promotes software patents without uttering the term “software patents”. IAM added: “IP chief at ThyssenKrupp Stephan Wolke spoke to IAM about the importance of IP strategy and how the IP landscape is likely to develop over the coming years. Discover more here ahead of his session at IPBC Europe…”

“No concern for actual quality anymore; it’s all about numbers (e.g. of patents and lawsuits).”So they’ll just carry on promoting software patents; they’ll just abstain from the term itself. These terms are mostly helpful for legal (or litigious) reasons; these new terms also complicate prior art search. What we’re left with is more litigation. See the USPTO Patent Examination Research Dataset and the USPTO Patent Prosecution Research Data. No concern for actual quality anymore; it’s all about numbers (e.g. of patents and lawsuits). This is not what patents came to exist for.

Things have gotten so bad that Microsoft lobbying has just made it into IP Watch. Incredible. It’s a form of lobbying for software patents (under the guise of “AI”), just like at Watchtroll 3 days ago. Jones Day’s Andrea Weiss Jeffries, Emily J. Tait and Jason M. Garr also wrote about “Protecting Artificial Intelligence IP”. Never mind if “Artificial Intelligence” is a branch of algorithms, i.e. software patents in this context.

“Like we said a decade ago, one way to put an end to patent trolling is to target the weapon they most typically use: software patents”This is worrying as nearly nobody in the mainstream/corporate media even bothers pointing that out. The media is still dominated by patent law firm (as far as articles about patents are concerned). They even repost their articles across several domains to dominate and increase visibility. Their conclusion: “AI today is less about imagined scenarios in the far-distant future and more about real-world applications happening right now or on the horizon. Organizations having a robust and well-thought-out AI protection strategy in place will be best positioned to enforce their IP rights when infringement and misappropriation occur and, better yet, to prevent unlawful conduct before it occurs. Trade secrets and copyright provide unique protection for IP that cannot be achieved by patents alone.”

Well, patents on software (e.g. “AI”) aren’t even valid under Section 101.

We expect to see many more of these buzzwords in the coming months or years; it’s a relatively new trend in the patent world. We’ve just mentioned (in the previous article) how blockchains are used too, along with other novel-sounding terms. How about this new article from the National Law Review? Greedy patent lawyers from the firm Foley & Lardner LLP (salivating over the prospects of lawsuits) describe particular trolls as “Patent Assertion Entities” (PAEs) and speak of LOT:

As a middle ground, most of the automakers have joined the LOT Network, which directs its members to develop license agreements that prevent assertion of the licensed patents by Patent Assertion Entities against any other LOT members. Similarly, a large complement of automakers and suppliers have also joined Unified Patents, which provides a mutual defense by challenging the validity of patents asserted against its members. Whereas a non-practicing entity may traditionally seek small quick settlements from many companies, when the targets all group together in one of these membership organizations, the leverage shifts as all of the companies share the same burden that each use to handle individually. These organizations have shown a strong propensity to align their members and reduce litigation. However, it remains to be seen if the good will developed from sharing in the attacks from non-practicing entities will hold up when a major patent challenge arises between two members of these organizations.

Unified Patents, RPX and so on profit more when many patent trolls (or PAEs) become active. That’s just their business model. Citing some numbers from RPX, United for Patent Reform wrote in the past week: “According to RPX Corp., of the 46 patent suits filed Monday, 27 were filed by patent trolls. That’s 59%.”

On another (later) day it wrote: “According to RPX Corp., of the 22 patent suits filed yesterday, 18 were filed by patent trolls. That’s 82%.”

A lot of these involved software patents, probably the large majority of these. Like we said a decade ago, one way to put an end to patent trolling is to target the weapon they most typically use: software patents (doesn’t matter if these are framed as “AI” or whatever). There’s a logistical reason which explains why trolls are attracted to such patents.

Blockchain Becomes the Target Not Only of Financial Institutions With Software Patents But Also Trolls

Sunday 14th of January 2018 02:28:13 PM

Background reading:

  1. Blockchain and Bitcoin Patents Help Demonstrate How Software Patents Get Used by Giants to Crush Emerging Technologies (‘Threats’)
  2. Blockchain Domain Infested With Software Patents, MasterCard Among the Culprits
  3. Financial Giants Will Attempt to Dominate or Control Bitcoin, Blockchain and Other Disruptive Free Software Using Software Patents

Summary: Blockchain software, which is growing in importance and has become ubiquitous in various domains other than finance, is perceived as an opportunity for disruption and also patent litigation; CNBC continues to publish puff pieces for Erich Spangenberg (amid stockpiling of such patents)

THE gold rush for software patents has recently morphed. Opportunists have been attempting all sorts of buzzwords to characterise the algorithms; sometimes they’re disguised as “AI” (more on that in our next post) and sometimes they’re disguised as something more concrete such as “Blockchain”.

Over the past week the patents-centric sites wrote a lot about blockchains — a concept which we doubt the authors even understand (they rarely have scientific background). In the words of a new headline from IP Watch, “Blockchain-Related Patents On Exponential Rise, Lawyer Says.”

“Those are all software patents, with the exception of rare cases like hardware optimised for encryption and/or mining.”Does the lawyer know what blockchains actually are? How about Watchtroll, which yesterday wrote that “Cisco’s IoT Blockchain Merely Scratches the Surface of Distributed Ledger Technologies” (another buzzword in there, “IoT”).

2 days ago another patent maximalists’ Web site went with the headline “Blockchain Patent Filings Dominated by Financial Services Industry” (we already wrote, several years ago as a matter of fact, about how big banks and other financial institutions try to guard their monopoly/oligopoly from new technology, using these patents). To quote from the article:

With the recent surge in cryptocurrencies, as well as companies in the blockchain ecosystem, Envision IP analyzed the US patent landscape of the industry. We reviewed patenting activity for all aspects of the blockchain industry – digital currency standards, digital currency exchanges, blockchain algorithms and infrastructure, blockchain front- and back-end applications, and blockchain-related enterprise technology.

Those are all software patents, with the exception of rare cases like hardware optimised for encryption and/or mining.

“So even a patent troll says that Spangenberg is “becoming the Jim Malackowski of IP” and does not deserve the press coverage he has been getting.”What’s probably worrying right now is that there’s a patent troll who sends me hate mail trying to engulf the market, probably in his aggressive old ways (which he conveniently denies in spite of all the evidence). His efforts are now promoted by lovers of patent trolls from IAM and in turn by Alexander Esslinger, who is linking to the troll (Erich Spangenberg) as well as to various UPC boosters (like “IP Litigator at Bristows” Annsley Merelle Ward). These are people who are suing, not defending or passing knowledge. They’re aggressors.

And speaking of aggressors, watch Tom Hochstatter (Dominion Harbor) promoting this new puff piece of Spangenberg (the second in a row from the same network). Hochstatter, who himself works for a patent troll, complains that other patent trolls are dead (or dying). Here is what he said: “Can I be honest here…what has Erich really done in the last 7-10 yrs? IPNav is DEAD. Kyle Bass deal DEAD. IPwe? AYFKM Seriously, why’s he getting the press. He’s becoming the Jim Malackowski of IP. Please, for ’18, let’s find a young up-&-comer to pin the Pied Piper label on.”

So even a patent troll says that Spangenberg is “becoming the Jim Malackowski of IP” and does not deserve the press coverage he has been getting. What did the press say? It’s just copy-pasting whatever Spangenberg wants to say and whitewashing his track record of trolling.

“…these patents are likely invalid under Section 101 and are only useful as long as he avoids the courtroom, i.e. by going after cash-strapped firms behind the scenes (or sending them nasty letters).”“By his own account,” it says, “he didn’t make his IP fortune by not being aggressive. But Spangenberg describes his latest, and what he thinks will be the biggest and longest-lasting investing idea he has ever had, as something he stumbled into as a result of a friend convincing him to buy bitcoin.”

So rather than waste on crap (like dozens of luxury cars) over $100,000,000 he took from companies that actually make stuff (by threatening them) he now buys digital currencies. And on it goes: “When I first came across IPwe and Spangenberg’s own initial, broad brushstroke blog post about the “misfit trolls, geeks and wonks” getting into the blockchain, I assumed he was amassing patents in the space to repeat his software strategy — and so did some patent experts whom I consulted. I was wrong. While firms that have a history of monetizing patents they didn’t create are in fact major players in cryptocurrencies and the blockchain — Intellectual Ventures, which has had its fair share of critics over the years, is among the top five holders of bitcoin patents, according to Patexia research — Spangenberg views IPwe’s own patents in this space as a secondary aim.”

In his E-mail to me Spangenberg insinuated that I was wrong to assume he would use patents against players in the space, but that remains to be seen. Either way, watch this space as many of these patents are likely invalid under Section 101 and are only useful as long as he avoids the courtroom, i.e. by going after cash-strapped firms behind the scenes (or sending them nasty letters). He has done that before, so why not again?

More in Tux Machines

KWin/X11 is feature frozen

Yesterday the KDE Community released the Beta for Plasma 5.12 LTS. With that release the feature freeze for 5.12 is in place and also an eternal feature freeze for KWin/X11. To quote the release announcement: “5.12 is the last release which sees feature development in KWin on X11. With 5.13 onwards only new features relevant to Wayland are going to be added.” This raised quite some questions, concerns and misunderstandings in the social networks. With this blog post I try to address those question and explain why this change in policy is done. Read more Also: KDE's KWin Now Considers Its X11 Code To Be Under An "Eternal Feature Freeze"

Plasma 5.12 LTS beta available in PPA for testing on Artful & Bionic

Adventurous users, testers and developers running Artful 17.10 or our development release Bionic 18.04 can now test the beta version of Plasma 5.12 LTS. Read more Also: Kubuntu 17.10 and 18.04 Users Can Now Try the KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS Desktop

Leftovers: Proprietary Software, HowTos, and GXml

Debian Developers: Google Summer of Code, Quick Recap of 2017

  • RHL'18 in Saint-Cergue, Switzerland
    In between eating fondue and skiing, I found time to resurrect some of my previous project ideas for Google Summer of Code. Most of them are not specific to Debian, several of them need co-mentors, please contact me if you are interested.
  • Quick recap of 2017
         After the Stretch release, it was time to attend DebConf’17 in Montreal, Canada. I’ve presented the latest news on the Debian Installer front there as well. This included a quick demo of my little framework which lets me run automatic installation tests. Many attendees mentioned openQA as the current state of the art technology for OS installation testing, and Philip Hands started looking into it. Right now, my little thing is still useful as it is, helping me reproduce regressions quickly, and testing bug fixes… so I haven’t been trying to port that to another tool yet. I also gave another presentation in two different contexts: once at a local FLOSS meeting in Nantes, France and once during the mini-DebConf in Toulouse, France. Nothing related to Debian Installer this time, as the topic was how I helped a company upgrade thousands of machines from Debian 6 to Debian 8 (and to Debian 9 since then). It was nice to have Evolix people around, since we shared our respective experience around automation tools like Ansible and Puppet.