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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 hours 21 min ago

Links 29/8/2018: Solaris 11.4, More Intel Issues

Wednesday 29th of August 2018 11:28:35 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • 10 Reasons To Replace Windows With Linux

      A lot of people run Windows on their laptop and desktop computers and quite often the reason for that is because it was already installed when they bought the machine.

      What is interesting though is that if you give people a better option then there is every chance they will switch to something else.

      If you don’t believe me look at the rise of Google Chrome. Internet Explorer used to dominate the browser market share but now Chrome controls over 60% compared to Internet Explorer which has under 10%.

      Linux is better than Windows, especially for home use and in this guide I will provide 10 reasons why.

  • Kernel Space
    • The world’s largest open source project, Linux, turned 27

      27 years ago, on the 25th of August in 1991 to be exact, a student from University of Helsinki posted on a newsgroup seeking for feedback for what he called a hobby project.
      That is of course Linux, the hobby project started by Linus Torvals, that has since conquered the world. In the original post Linus was looking for feedback for fellow Minix users. He had been working on his replacement for Minix since April, and was ready to get it out there.

      It obviously still took a while before Linux was ready for a proper spotlight, but the cat was out of the bag.

    • Is the Linux 4.18 kernel heading your way?

      In case this URL isn’t familiar, www.kernel.org is the web site of the organization that distributes the Linux kernel and other Open Source software to the public without charge. The site provides kernel archives where anyone can download source. And, yes, even you, can go and download source code for Linux.

      The latest stable version is currently 4.18.5. The kernel.org site provides extensive and easily navigated directories that can shed as much light on the Linux kernel as you might care to absorb. That includes the ability to view individual files that represent portions of the code base or download past or current releases.

      If you go to www.kernel.org, you will see options for downloading kernel tarballs, viewing the verification signatures for the tarballs, and investigating patches. If you have never considered the amount of code that comprises the Linux kernel or imagined how accessible it is, visiting the site and spending a little time wandering around might prove to be quite an exciting experience. Try drilling down to a single script as in this example picked at random and you’ll see how easy it is to probe into code that makes up the core of Linux.

    • Linux 4.4.153
    • Linux 3.18.120
    • Realtek USB3 Hubs Will See Firmware Updates Delivered On Linux Via Fwupd/LVFS

      Linux firmware updating is on a roll with the fwupd updating utility and the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) for the distribution of these firmware files recently seeing AKiTiO Thunderbolt device support and NVMe SSD firmware updating being the next big task. Richard Hughes of Red Hat has also revealed he’s been working on USB3 hub firmware support in conjunction with Realtek.

    • Linux 4.19 lets you declare your trust in AMD, IBM and Intel

      Linux v4.19-rc1, release candidate code published on Sunday, allows those building their own kernel or Linux distribution to choose whether or not to trust the CPU hardware random number generator, a decision that has become complicated in the wake of the revelations about government surveillance over the past five years.

      When random number generation is insufficiently random, encryption based on such numbers can be broken with less effort. Among the security-minded, there’s concern that hardware makers might offer subpar randomization unknowingly, as a result of espionage, or to accommodate demands from government law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

      The paranoia wasn’t always so palpable. Back in 2013, Linus Torvalds, Lord of the Linux, dismissed calls to ditch Intel’s RDRAND processor instruction, noting that the Linux kernel uses multiple sources of input to generate random numbers.

    • Intel’s 13 Patches For SGX Linux Support See Their 13th Revision

      One of the features sadly not making it into the in-development Linux 4.19 kernel is the support for Intel’s SGX — the Software Guard Extensions.

      Intel Software Guard Extensions allow for allocating “enclaves” or private regions of memory for secure computing, DRM, and other purposes. SGX support was introduced to Intel CPUs with Skylake while the Linux support has remained a work-in-progress.

    • Bug in Linux 4.18 Kernel Causes CPU Stall and System Freezes on Older Hardware

      If ever you needed a good reason to upgrade your old CPU, it seems a “show-stopping” bug has found its way into the Linux 4.18 stable kernel series – though its only effecting older hardware, mostly the Intel Core 2 Duo era processors. This bug in Linux 4.18 kernel currently has two submitted bug reports on the bugzilla tracker.

    • Linux 4.18 Is Appearing To Cause Problems For Those Running Older CPUs

      As a P.S.A. for those tending to quickly upgrade to new major kernel releases but are doing so on older hardware, there appears to be a show-stopping bug that made it into the stable Linux 4.18 series.

      [...]

      Those encountering this problem have bisected it to clocksource: Remove kthread as the problematic commit. If building the Linux 4.18 kernel with that commit reverted, those old CPUs begin to happily run on this latest stable kernel release. Another alternative to workaround this problem is booting with the kernel parameter of clocksource=hpet. Of course, if you are running on a system as old as the Core 2 Duo days (2006~2010), you can choose any number of older stable Linux LTS releases to boot your system until this situation is resolved upstream and back-ported to the 4.18 series.

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA 390.87 Linux Driver Backports That Important Performance Fix

        NVIDIA has today shipped the 390.87 Linux driver as their latest update to the 390 “long-lived” driver series

      • GPUOpen’s Vulkan Memory Allocator 2.1 Being Prepped With Many Additions

        AMD’s GPUOpen group has released their first beta of the Vulkan Memory Allocator 2.1 release after “many months of development” and as such comes with many new features.

        VulkanMemoryAllocator as a refresher is the open-source AMD effort to provide an easy-to-use and integrate Vulkan memory allocation library to ease the process of bringing up new Vulkan code. The VulkanMemoryAllocator is used by the likes of Google’s Filament renderer, vkDoom3, LWJGL, the Anvil framework, and others.

      • Mir’s EGMDE “Edge” Now Has Experimental X11 Support, Static Display Configuration

        Ubuntu’s Mir display server that has been chasing Wayland support and earlier this year introduced EGMDE as the example Mir desktop environment has picked up some extra functionality on its “edge” channel.

        Thanks to Ubuntu’s Snappy, via Snap it’s now possible to have both beta and edge channels of EGMDE with easy installation. Their edge channel of EGMDE will be where they ship their experimental/bleeding-edge features. In making use of this new functionality, to the EGMDE edge channel they have introduced some new capabilities.

      • More Vega 20 Enablement Heading To Linux 4.20~5.0, No Longer Marked Experimental

        While the Linux 4.19 kernel merge window just ended this past weekend and the development cycle for Linux 4.20 (or most likely to be called Linux 5.0) won’t kick off until around the middle of October, AMD has already begun staging a ton of changes for this next kernel version. In particular, it looks like with this next kernel release their Vega 20 enablement will be in order.

      • The DRM GPU Scheduler Got Beefed Up This Summer, More Improvements Possible

        In addition to the VKMS driver for virtual kernel mode-setting, the other successful Google Summer of Code (GSoC) project this summer under the X.Org umbrella was improving the DRM GPU scheduler.

        The DRM GPU scheduler is what was the AMDGPU scheduler before it was punted out into DRM common code so this GPU scheduler could be re-used by other Direct Rendering Manager drivers like Etnaviv and Linux-Lima. As part of GSoC 2018, Nayan Deshmukh worked on improvements to the DRM GPU scheduler with a particular focus on being able to feed one entity into multiple run queues.

      • wineSHOCK: The Automated Direct3D Game Benchmarks On Wine

        Given Valve’s now public Steam Play for Linux using the Wine-derived Proton and their ongoing relationship with Code Weavers to improve the experience for Windows games on Linux, it perhaps adds better context why this summer for GSoC there was the automated Direct3D game benchmarking work with mentorship by a CodeWeavers developer.

        This summer we’ve been covering the work by student developer Dimitris Gounaridis on better Direct3D game benchmarks within Wine. After all, this Google Summer of Code project is facilitated using the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org.

      • Vulkan VirGL Ends The Summer Being Able To Execute A Compute Shader

        One of the most interesting projects we’ve seen attempted for Google Summer of Code 2018 was adding Vulkan support to VirGL for allowing Vulkan access within guest virtual machines.

        The VirGL stack has been getting into great shape with its OpenGL 4 support while up until this summer there wasn’t much effort on getting the Vulkan graphics/compute API handled by this stack that leverages Mesa, VirtIO-GPU, and the “virglrenderer” component to make all of this magic happen.

    • Benchmarks
      • Benchmarks Of Intel’s Latest Linux Microcode Update

        With all of the confusion last week over Intel’s short-lived CPU microcode license change that forbid benchmarking only for them to change it a short time later — to a much nicer license in that the microcode files can be easily redistributed and don’t curtail it in other manners (and also re-licensing their FSP too), here are some performance benchmarks when trying out this latest Intel microcode on Linux.

        [...]

        In the benchmarks run over the weekend, the latest Intel microcode files for August (taking Xeon Scalable CPUs to 0x200004d appeared to have only minimal impact on the system performance… Mostly in I/O cases were there some slight differences in performance, but nothing overly shocking and not as bad as the L1TF Linux kernel mitigation itself — see those benchmarks for all the details. Going into this microcode comparison I was expecting much more volatile results given their short-lived benchmark restriction, but it looks like it may have just been an overzealous Intel lawyer who thought it would be a good idea to forbid benchmarking and further lock-down their microcode license…

      • Fresh NVIDIA vs. AMD Radeon OpenCL GPU Benchmarks For August 2018

        It has been a while since last delivering some OpenCL GPU compute benchmarks across several different graphics cards on the latest Linux drivers, so here is a fresh look.

        Tests were done using the the NVIDIA 396.54 Linux driver with the GeForce GTX 1070 / 1070 Ti / 1080 / 1080 Ti graphics cards. On the AMD side was the newest AMDGPU-PRO 18.30 driver release with testing a Radeon RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64.

      • The Tighter NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon Linux Gaming Battle With 396.54 + Mesa 18.3-dev Drivers

        Last week NVIDIA released the 396.54 driver that has a significant performance fix for OpenGL/Vulkan Linux performance due to a resource leak regression introduced at the start of the 390 driver series. With that updated driver (also as of yesterday back-ported to 390.87 too), there is a measurable boost in performance after running a few games on NVIDIA Linux systems. But at the same time, the Mesa 18.3-dev open-source graphics driver stack with RadeonSI/RADV continues improving on the open-source AMD front. Here is a fresh look at how the latest AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards compare using these latest drivers.

      • Clear Linux Rolling Out KDE Plasma Desktop Support, Plus Some Benchmarks Against GNOME Shell

        The performance-optimized Clear Linux distribution out of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center started out with Xfce as its lone desktop option and then added and moved over to the GNOME Shell as the default desktop. While GNOME Shell remains the default desktop choice for this rolling-release Linux distribution, KDE components have begun appearing in recent days.

        On Clear Linux it’s now just a swupd bundle-add desktop-kde command away from getting a Plasma 5 desktop on this high-performance Linux stack. Also new are the desktop-kde-apps and desktop-kde-libs bundles, though they are included as part of the desktop-kde bundle. Over the weekend the KDE Plasma desktop became functional on Clear Linux.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Getting started with the i3 window manager on Linux

      In my article 5 reasons the i3 window manager makes Linux better, I shared the top five reasons I use and recommend the i3 window manager as an alternative Linux desktop experience.

      In this post, I will walk through the installation and basic configuration of i3 on Fedora 28 Linux.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KD Chart 2.6.1 Released

        This is the latest release of our powerful open-source Qt component, KD Chart, that allows you to create business charts and much more.

      • KDAB at SIGGRAPH – 2018
      • KDAB Talks at Qt World Summit – Boston

        KDAB is offering two talks at Qt World Summit in Boston. Here’s a preview before the full program is published.

        The first, from Qt 3D expert Mike Krus, gives an in-depth look at how to make the collaboration between designers and developers smoother.

      • Akademy 2018 Trip Report

        I recently had the opportunity to attend Akademy – the annual world summit of KDE. This blog post covers my experience of the event, and is mostly a brain-dump memory aide. Akademy attracts KDE developers, enthusiast users and others from the wider Qt, KDE and distro communities. The event is a week-long in-person combination of talks and BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions. This year Akademy was held at TU Wein in Vienna, Austria.

        I’d never attended Akademy before, as I am not a KDE developer, and only recently starting running Plasma on my ThinkPad T450. My employer – Canonical – is a sponsor of the KDE project, and a silver level sponsor of Akademy. A recent reorganisation inside Canonical meant I was able to take someone else’s place at the last minute. So I booked travel and accomodation to attend from Saturday to Tuesday.

      • Plasma Mobile at a demoparty?

        Chaos Constructions is an annual computer festival held in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is centered around demoscene — a form of computer art where participants write programs that produce short audio-visual presentations. Apart from the demoscene contests, you can enjoy computer-related seminars, live acts, and a computer exhibition.

      • Human Interface Guidelines

        The Visual Design Group has been hard at work to improve our Human Interface Guidelines. These set of rules and guidelines are meant for our developers and designers to use when creating applications, submitting patches, suggesting UI changes, etc. Every developer that we work with will feel a little more safe that their application is headed in the right visual direction for KDE.

        However, as with most things, our guidelines have become outdated. Recent development into Kirigami and further work into the desktop have made it clear that we must change and update our guidelines to accommodate for these new developments.

        In fact, during Akademy 2018 in Vienna, updating our guidelines was one of the most cited suggestions that I received.

      • TableView

        I’m happy to announce that in Qt 5.12, a new TableView item will be available in the QtQuick module. TableView is similar to the existing ListView, but with additional support for showing multiple columns.

        Like with ListView, you can assign data models of any kind to TableView, like ListModels or plain Javascript arrays. But to create models with more than one column, you currently need to subclass QAbstractItemModel in C++. A QML TableModel is also in the works, but will come later.

      • Calendar progress

        As we’re closing in on a simple but functional calendar for Kube, I’d like to share our progress with you.

        We’ve decided to start with a week view, as that seems to be a good compromise between information density and enough information for day-to-day use.
        We will eventually complement that with a month view, which is probably all we need for the time being.

      • Krita Comic Managemer: Improving the other exporters.

        There’s still more that can be done, like for example accessibility metadata entries, but for now I am pretty pleased with this.

        It is in master, so Krita 4.2 will carry the updated plugin!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GTK+ and the application id

        tl;dr: If you want to be sure your application will be displayed with the correct icon under different Wayland compositors make sure that your GApplication (or GtkApplication) uses

        g_set_prgname(your_g_application_id);

        on GTK+3. On GTK+4 this is handled for you.

      • What ails GHashTable?

        I promised a closer look at GHashTable and ways to improve it; here’s that look and another batch of benchmarks to boot.

        This time around I’ve dropped most of the other tables from the plots, keeping only khash and adding results from my GLib branch and Rust’s HashMap, the latter thanks to a pull request from Josh Stone. These tables have closely comparable performance and therefore provide a good reference. Besides, every table tested previously is either generally slower or more memory-hungry (or both), and including them would compress the interesting parts of the plot.

      • What this blog will become after GSoC

        Hello everyone, I am back after some weeks of vacation!

        So GSoC 2018 officially ended last week but I’ve decided to keep using this blog for posting news of the work I will be doing for some time (i.e. until I find a better place for this).

  • Distributions
    • Intel To Develop Safety-Critical Linux OS Distribution

      Imad Sousou of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center has announced their plans to develop a safety-critical Linux distribution. This Linux distribution will be geared for running on safety-compliant solutions from autonomous vehicles to drones and more.

    • Slackware Family
      • Calibre 3.30.0 for Slackware with internal Qt5 libraries

        It took me quite a while to release a new package for Calibre, the e-book library manager. That had a reason.

        In July I switched the Qt5 package in my repositories to version 5.11 to support the latest KDE Plasma5 software and because it offers advantages over the previous 5.9 releases. Unfortunately, as I found out soon afterwards, the Calibre software fails to work with Qt 5.11 – its GUI components were not built and there was no obvious error to explain why.

        Therefore I had to re-visit the calibre.SlackBuild‘s internals and try to revive the internal functions that compile an embedded Qt library set. This was last tested in the early days of my Calibre packages when Qt4 was the running champion. Adding internal Qt5 support was quite a different beast. Qt5 is a lot bigger than the venerable Qt4 so the build process needed some pruning to keep the compilation times acceptable and the package size under control.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat to Explore Blockchain Software Tracking Benefits for Cloud Computing Usage

        Multinational firm offering open-source software essentials, Red Hat is apparently seeking the help of blockchain technology to better assess consumer usage of cloud computing platforms. News regarding Red Hat’s recent endeavor was publicised via a patent filed with the U.S Patent & Trademark Office, officially dubbed, “Blockchain-based Software Instance Usage Determination,” as of Thursday, August 23.

        The reason for considering blockchain stems from the challenges that arise when it comes to keeping track of cloud computing costs. In general, software products are licensed annually and have some fixed fee attached to them. This, however, is not the case with cloud computing, as both the necessary licenses and fees are dependent on usage. Therefore, Red Hat’s need to understand usage in terms of the number of users and amount of time used came about.

      • Red Hat Announces Changes to RHCA Certification
      • FusionLayer Joins Red Hat Partner Program
      • Securing apps and services with Keycloak (Watch DevNation Live video)

        The video from the last DevNation Live: Securing apps and services with Keycloak is now available to watch online. In this session, you will learn how to secure web/HTML5 applications, single-page and mobile applications, and services with Keycloak. Keycloak can be used to secure traditional monolithic applications as well as microservices and service mesh-based applications that need secure end-to-end authentication for all front- and back-end services. The examples in the video cover PHP, Node.js, and HTML/JavaScript.

        Securing applications and services is no longer just about assigning a username and password. You need to manage identities. You need to integrate with legacy and external authentication systems to provide features that are in demand like social logins and single sign-on (SSO). Your list of other requirements may be long. But you don’t want to develop all of this yourself, nor should you.

      • Breaking the legacy virtualization cycle: How Red Hat and our partners are transforming IT through open source

        Across nearly every industry, organizations of all shapes and sizes are embracing digital transformation in an effort to modernize their IT departments. They want to deliver better, faster and more dynamic services to customers — and they’re starting from their infrastructure, up. But for companies locked into legacy technologies, transformation isn’t always an option.

        Organizations with proprietary virtualization solutions know all too well how this technology can stifle enterprise IT innovation and advancement. For many, the cost of simply maintaining existing infrastructure investments ties up an overwhelming majority of budgets, leaving little room to invest in new technologies, and the closed vendor ecosystem can make integrating and adopting cloud-native solutions based on Kubernetes and Linux containers nearly impossible.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
    • Debian Family
      • Debian Stretch Gets Patch for Regression Causing Boot Failures on ARM Systems

        In a recent security advisory, Salvatore Bonaccorso writes that the last Linux kernel update released for Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” to mitigate the L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) security vulnerabilities is causing boot failures for users on the ARM architecture.

        Also known as Foreshadow, these security vulnerabilities are similar to the Spectre security vulnerabilities and allow an attacker that has access to an unprivileged process to read the memory from arbitrary addresses that aren’t controlled by users, including from the kernel.

      • Debian Policy call for participation — August 2018

        Here’s a summary of some of the bugs against the Debian Policy Manual. Please consider getting involved, whether or not you’re an existing contributor.

      • Derivatives
        • Debian-Based Neptune Linux 5.5 Operating System Released with LibreOffice 6.1

          Coming only a month after the Neptune 5.4 release that introduced a new dark theme and updated several components, Neptune 5.5 bumps the kernel version to Linux kernel 4.17.8 and updates the graphics stack to Mesa 18.1.6, AMDGPU DDX 18.0.1, Nouveau DDX 1.0.15, and ATI/Radeon DDX 18.0.1.

          “This update represents the current state of Neptune 5 and renews the ISO file so if you install Neptune you don’t have to download tons of Updates,” writes Leszek Lesner in today’s announcement. “In this update we improved hardware support further by providing Linux Kernel 4.17.8 with improved drivers and bugfixes.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 542

            Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 542 for the week of August 19 – 25, 2018. The full version of this issue is available here.

          • UBports releases Ubuntu Touch OTA-4, the biggest update yet

            When Canonical ceased development of Ubuntu Touch for smartphones and tablets last year, an independent group of developers formed the UBports project to continue supporting and updating the Linux-based smartphone operating system.

            Now the team has released Ubuntu Touch OTA-4, a major update that fixes bugs, updates software packages, adds new features and performance enhancements, and updates the base of the operating system from Ubuntu 15.04 to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Will (Once Again) Ship with an Older Version of Nautilus

            April’s release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS offered up the majority of GNOME 3.28 but devs chose to include Nautilus 3.26 rather than the newer v38 release. That made sense; it was an LTS release and v3.26 was the last version of the file manager to support desktop icons.

            This time around Ubuntu 18.10 will offer up the majority of GNOME 3.30 but, where the file manager is considered, once again stick with Nautilus 3.26.

            We speculated several months back that Ubuntu’s preference for keeping desktop icons around (a feature that newer version of Nautilus do not provide) would override the lure of sure-wrought ‘newness’.

          • Minimal Ubuntu for the cloud delivers some maximum benefits

            Ubuntu is used everywhere. In fact, I’m writing this on an Ubuntu machine, specifically, the oh-so-elegant Ubuntu Mate distro. Hundreds of millions of personal computers, servers, mobile devices, and containers are booting Ubuntu, and aren’t looking back. Ubuntu even runs inside the International Space Station and controls the BYU Mars Rover. Ubuntu phones are being rolled out by Meizu and BQ, and it is worth mentioning that Ubuntu can even be installed on Google Nexus tablets and phones. Ubuntu is also running on Hubu, the world’s cleverest robot. Ubuntu powers the infrastructure at leading organizations like Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Netflix, Walmart, Bloomberg, WETA Digital, and even Wikipedia. Ubuntu is also behind the largest supercomputer Tianhe-2. Ever since cloud computing has taken off, Ubuntu has become a big key player in the market. Over 60 million Ubuntu images are launched by Docker users. There’s plenty of Ubuntu in Kubernetes, Apache Mesos, Cloud Foundry, and Heroku. And now, there is a brand new version of Ubuntu on the block — Minimal Ubuntu.

          • Canonical Outs Intel Microcode Security Update for All Supported Ubuntu Releases

            According to the advisory, the new Intel microcode firmware security update mitigates the L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) vulnerability documented as CVE-2018-3646, which could allow an attacker in a guest virtual machine to expose sensitive information from either the host operating system or other guests.

            It also fixes the well known Spectre Variant 4 security vulnerability (CVE-2018-3639) that could allow an attacker to expose sensitive information, including kernel memory via a side-channel attack, and another side-channel attack known as Rogue System Register Read (RSRE) and documented as (CVE-2018-3640).

          • Ubuntu Server development summary – 28 August 2018

            The purpose of this communication is to provide a status update and highlights for any interesting subjects from the Ubuntu Server Team. If you would like to reach the server team, you can find us at the #ubuntu-server channel on Freenode. Alternatively, you can sign up and use the Ubuntu Server Team mailing list.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Mainframe Project Announces Zowe: A Platform for the Mainframe

    The Open Mainframe Project today announced Zowe. Zowe provides an open source software framework to bridge the gap between modern applications and the mainframe. It gives users easier interoperability and scalability for tools from multiple vendors. Zowe is the first open source project based on z/OS.

    As hybrid cloud architectures grow in popularity, organizations will need intuitive, productive, and better-integrated capabilities for z/OS. The project’s mission centers around hybrid delivery through an open source framework. It will also build an ecosystem of independent software vendors, system integrations, clients, and end users. This framework enables an ecosystem of software solutions intended to provide a simple, intuitive environment for IT professionals across teams.

  • Google releases open source reinforcement learning framework for training AI models

    Reinforcement learning — an artificial intelligence (AI) technique that uses rewards (or punishments) to drive agents in the direction of specific goals — trained the systems that defeated Alpha Go world champions and mastered Valve’s Dota 2. And it’s a core part of Google subsidiary DeepMind’s deep Q-network (DQN), which can distribute learning across multiple workers in the pursuit of, for example, achieving “superhuman” performance in Atari 2600 games. The trouble is, reinforcement learning frameworks take time to master a goal, tend to be inflexible, and aren’t always stable.

    That’s why Google is proposing an alternative: an open source reinforcement framework based on TensorFlow, its machine learning library. It’s available from Github starting today.

  • Liberty Activists Migrating from Twitter to Censorship-Proof “Mastodon” Decentralized Platform

    There has been a lot of controversy recently over social media websites like Twitter swinging their ban hammer on personalities with opinions they don’t like. As a libertarian, I believe in property rights and so Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and the like should certainly be free to ban people for whatever reason they want. I also believe in the free market’s potential reactions to bad decisions by business owners, which include boycott and competition.

    Thankfully, the competition has arrived! Mastodon is a decentralized social media replacement for Twitter and it does an excellent job. I recently joined the “Liberdon” server intended for libertarians and voluntarists. Not only is Mastodon decentralized, in that anyone who wants to can run a server, but it’s also “federated”. Federated means your server can be connected to all the other Mastodon servers, that is so long as the other servers want to be connected to you. Each server sets its own rules for which other servers they’ll federate with. So if the NAZIs or Communists start a server, no one has to link up to them – the market decides instead of a centralized corporation like Twitter. However, even if no other servers federate with, say Chris Cantwell‘s server (I don’t think he has one – just as an example), he can still run his server and hate-filled bigots and racists can join it and talk to each other. Of course, each server can be controlled and its policy set by its administrator, so intra-server censorship is still possible (most servers prohibit spam, for instance), but given you are free to start your own server and set your own policy, you can’t be censored if you start your own platform.

  • Now available: The open source guide to DevOps monitoring tools

    Once upon a time, I was troubleshooting some vexing problems in an application that needed to be scaled several orders of magnitude, with only a couple of weeks to re-architect it. We had no log aggregation, no metrics aggregation, no distributed tracing, and no visualization. Most of our work had to be done on the actual production nodes using tools like strace and grepping through logs. These are great tools, but they don’t make it easy to analyze a distributed system across dozens of hosts. We got the job done, but it was painful and involved a lot more guessing and risk than I prefer.

    At a different job, I helped troubleshoot an app in production that was suffering from an out-of-memory (OOM) issue. The problem was inconsistent, as it didn’t seem to correlate with running time, load, time of day, or any other aspect that would provide some predictability. This was obviously going to be a difficult problem to diagnose on a system that spanned hundreds of hosts with many applications calling it. Luckily, we had log aggregation, distributed tracing, metrics aggregation, and a plethora of visualizations. We looked at our memory graph and saw a distinct spike in memory usage, so we used that spike to alert us so we could diagnose the issue in real time when it occurred.

  • 4 open source monitoring tools

    Isn’t monitoring just monitoring? Doesn’t it include logging, visualization, and time-series data?

    The terminology around monitoring has caused a lot of confusion over the years and has led to some poor tools that tout the ability to do everything in one format. Observability proponents recognize there are many levels for observing a system. Metrics aggregation is primarily time-series data, and that’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

  • Google improves AI model training by open-sourcing framework
  • AI: Google releases open source framework for reinforcement learning
  • An Introduction to Quantum Computing with Open Source Cirq Framework

    As the title suggests what we are about to begin discussing, this article is an effort to understand how far we have come in Quantum Computing and where we are headed in the field in order to accelerate scientific and technological research, through an Open Source perspective with Cirq.

    First, we will introduce you to the world of Quantum Computing. We will try our best to explain the basic idea behind the same before we look into how Cirq would be playing a significant role in the future of Quantum Computing. Cirq, as you might have heard of recently, has been breaking news in the field and in this Open Science article, we will try to find out why.

    [...]

    It will be easier for us to understand Quantum Computing by comparing it first to Classical Computing. Classical Computing refers to how today’s conventional computers are designed to work. The device with which you are reading this article right now, can also be referred to as a Classical Computing Device.

  • Events
    • Reports from Netdev 0×12

      The Netdev 0×12 networking conference was held in mid-July. Participants at the event have put together a set of reports of the talks that were held on the last two days; Day 2 includes eleven talks, including the keynote by Van Jacobson, while Day 3 covers another ten topics.

    • Netdev day 3

      In this talk Tushar Dave presents his work on using eBPF for Reliable Datagram Socket (RDS) filtering. Tushar started his talk by explaining that RDS is a high performance, low latency connectionless protocol that sits on top of TCP (sk_buff) and IB (scatterlist) transport layers.

      The problem Tushar tried to solve was to implement RDS filtering and firewall to do DPI of a full RDS packet in a unified solution for both TCP and IB. Netfilter is a possibility but Netfilter only uses sk_buff. An alternative is eBPF which has been adopted into the Linux kernel and used for a lot of things.

      In order to use eBPF as it was, Tushar had to add a new BPF prog type (similar to socket filter) that deals with scatterlist. In addition he had to create a new function to setup needed data structures to run filter program attached to the socket. As POC Tushar created a BPF helper to help users to traverse the sg elements in the scatterlist.

    • Netdev 2018 day 2

      The first of these saved us until ~1995, then the second and third until ~2012. Since then the problem has been increasing. Dennard’s scaling stopped. Usually, the switch’s speed was faster than the host speed. CPU upgrades cannot solve network problems anymore. This had a big impact on the network. Google has been working to try and address some of these issues; Van mentioned several Google authored papers: – Hull, BwE, FQ/pacing, Timely, BBR, Carousel. All these papers tried to figure out how to find the bottleneck link downstream and prevent pressure in downstream buffers. BwE discussed how to fix things at the host to prevent queue buildup in switches. FQ/pacing was about desire to prevent many packets traveling to the same destinations in bursts.

      Van argued that AFAP isn’t working for us now because it’s local to the host and our problems aren’t local. We need a mechanism that allows for more control of packet spacing on the wire. To enforce relationships between all outgoing packets, the enforcement mechanism needs to be just in front of the NIC. Carousel is a great example of this.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • Thank You, Cathy Davidson

        Cathy Davidson joined the Mozilla Foundation board in 2012, and has been a force helping us broaden our horizons and enter new areas. Cathy was the first person to join the Foundation board without a multi-year history with browsers or open source. This was an act of bravery!

      • SUMO Days Firefox 62: you are invited!

        On these days, Support contributors will be online answering questions live and hanging out. If you do not see anyone active online, please contact Rachel (username: guigs) or another Administrator or Operator in the #sumo IRC channel listed in the wiki.

        There is also the two Telegram channels that are active for assignments of tweets and collaboration. You may need an account to participate, so just send a message to social Telegram group – there are guidelines on how to set up Tweetdeck for social if you would like your own workspace, or you can message guigs to add your trello account to the trello board with delegated tweets for the day.

      • Experiment: Adjusting SETA to run individual files instead of individual jobs

        I did an experiment in June (was PTO and busy on migrating a lot of tests in July/August) where I did some queries on the treeherder database to find the actual test cases that caused the failures instead of only the job names. I came up with a list of 171 tests that we needed to run and these ran in 6 jobs in the tree using 147 minutes of CPU time.

      • Dear Venmo: Update Your Privacy Settings

        Last month, privacy researcher and Mozilla Fellow Hang Do Thi Duc released Public By Default, a sobering look at the vast amount of personal data that’s easily accessible on Venmo, the mobile payment app.

        By using Venmo’s public API and its “public by default” setting for user transactions, Hang was able to watch a couple feud on Valentine’s Day, observe a woman’s junk food habits, and peer into a marijuana dealer’s business operations. Seven million people use Venmo every month — and many may not know that their transactions are available for anyone to see.

        Privacy, and not publicity, should be the default.

        Despite widespread coverage of Hang’s work — and a petition by Mozilla that has garnered more than 17,000 signatures — Venmo transactions are still public by default.

      • Taskcluster Credential Derivation in EC2 using S/MIME, OpenSSL’s C api and Node.js’s N-API
      • Shrinking Go Binaries
      • Firefox Nightly Secure DNS Experimental Results

        A previous post discussed a planned Firefox Nightly experiment involving secure DNS via the DNS over HTTPS (DoH) protocol. That experiment is now complete and this post discusses the results.

        Browser users are currently experiencing spying and spoofing of their DNS information due to reliance on the unsecured traditional DNS protocol. A paper from the 2018 Usenix Security Symposium provides a new data point on how often DNS is actively interfered with – to say nothing of the passive data collection that it also endures. DoH will let Firefox securely and privately obtain DNS information from one or more services that it trusts to give correct answers and keep the interaction private.

      • Taskcluster Artifact API extended to support content verification and improve error detection
      • Let’s be Transparent

        Two years ago, we released the Firefox Hardware Report to share with the public the state of desktop hardware. Whether you’re a web developer deciding what hardware settings to test against or someone just interested in CPUs and GPUs, we wanted to provide a public resource to show exactly what technologies are running in the wild.

        This year, we’re continuing the tradition by releasing the Firefox Public Data Report. This report expands on the hardware report by adding data on how Firefox desktop users are using the browser and the web. Ever wanted to know the effect of Spring Festival on internet use in China? (it goes down.) What add-on is most popular this week in Russia? (it’s Визуальные закладки.) What country averages the most browser use per day? (Americans, with about 6 to 6.5 hours of use a day.) In total there are 10 metrics, broken down by the top 10 countries, with plans to add more in the future.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Oracle Solaris 11.4 Released for General Availability

      I’m pleased to announce the release of Oracle Solaris 11.4. Of the four releases of Oracle Solaris that I’ve been involved in, this is the best one yet!

      Oracle Solaris is the trusted business platform that you depend on. Oracle Solaris 11 gives you consistent compatibility, is simple to use and is designed to always be secure.

    • Solaris 11.4 released

      Congrats to my colleagues in the Solaris team who released Solaris 11.4 today. Despite the 11.x moniker, this is actually a major Solaris release; Oracle has just decided to go down the perpetual macOS X / Windows 10 version numbering route from now on. (This development is unlikely to faze Solaris veterans, who have been using SunOS 5.x since 1992.)

    • Oracle Solaris 11.4 Officially Released

      Two years after Solaris 11.3 and Oracle opting for a “continuous delivery” model of 11.next updates instead of a “Solaris 12″, Solaris 11.4 is out the door today.

      Oracle is talking up Solaris 11.4 with its general availability release as “the trusted business platform”, “consistent compatibility, is simple to use and is designed to always be secure”, “more than 3,000 applications certified to run on it”, and “the only operating system that has completed UNIX V7 certification.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • No lasers or Linux hacks, but Better Call Saul remains one of TV’s techiest shows [Ed: Conde Nast throws terms like "Linux hacks" into headlines that have nothing to do with Linux. Knowing that many people associate "hacks" with malice...]
    • Open Source Components Save Time but Need to be Closely Monitored [Ed: Proprietary software also needs to be closely monitored, but I understand that some rather parasitic firms -- some connected closely to Microsoft -- create a stigma to sell their blobs. Zev Brodsky from WhiteSource, which works with Microsoft, is attacking FOSS here, as usual.]
    • Opening Doors to Collaboration with Open Source Projects [Ed: Here we have the Linux Foundation once again propping up Microsoft; this is the company currently investigated by DoJ for corruption and bribery. If the Linux Foundation was a wild animal, it would not survive very long. It’s putting its head inside the lion’s mouth, expecting the lion to lick it instead of biting it. Or maybe the Linux Foundation no longer pursues the success of Linux but instead just wants to get as much money and influence as possible...]
  • BSD
    • OBSD.ams : The setup

      For all the people who want to know what our setup looks like. Below is a write-up of our setup and configuration. There aren’t any packages installed on the servers running the Virtual Machines.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • bison-3.1 released [stable]

      We are very happy to announce the release of GNU Bison 3.1. It introduces new features such as typed midrule actions, brings improvements in the diagnostics, fixes several bugs and portability issues, improves the examples, and more.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • GPL Violations Cost Creality a US Distributor

      One of the core tenets of free and open source software licenses is that you’re being provided source code for a project with the hope that you’ll “pay it forward” if and when you utilize that code. In fact some licenses, such as the GNU Public License (GPL), require that you keep the source code for subsequent spin-offs or forks open. These are known as viral licenses, and the hope is that they will help spread the use of open source as derivative works can’t turn around and refuse to release their source code.

    • Sign up for the FSF’s next seminar on GPL Enforcement and Legal Ethics

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is the recognized canonical source on best practices for the use of GNU licenses. As stewards of the GNU family of licenses, we provide a wide variety of resources for helping developers and lawyers alike to improve their understanding of software freedom. In addition to published resources, we also routinely provide in-person instruction in the form of continuing legal education seminars. The FSF is proud to announce again that we are offering a seminar to take place on the west coast on September 27th.

    • Open-source licensing war: Commons Clause

      Most people wouldn’t know an open-source license from their driver’s license. For those who work with open-source software, it’s a different story. Open-source license fights can be vicious, cost serious coin, and determine the fate of multi-million dollar companies. So, when Redis Labs added a new license clause, Commons Clause, on top of Redis, an open-source, BSD licensed, in-memory data structure store, all hell broke loose.

      Why? First, you need to understand that while you may never have heard of Redis, it’s a big deal. It enables real-time applications such as advertising, gaming financial services, and IoT to work at speed. That’s because it can deliver sub-millisecond response times to millions of requests per second.

      But Redis Labs has been unsuccessful in monetizing Redis, or at least not as successful as they’d like. Their executives were discovering, like the far more well-known Docker, that having a great open-source technology did not mean you’d be making millions. Redis’ solution was to embrace Commons Clause.

  • Programming/Development
    • Stop! Don’t blindly take that coding challenge.

      If we can collectively reject awful hiring practices, we all win. Employers already have most of the power in this relationship, so we need to band together and consider how each of our individual actions affect the community as a whole.

       

      Don’t ever do a code test before speaking with an engineer on the team. You have the power to stop employers from lazily looking at your “hacker rank” or some other arbitrarily defined score. If you want to be treated like a human being, just stop doing things that put you in a box and force you to be seen as a number.

       

      You have the power. You can do this.

    • Is “C Programming language” Still Worth Learning in 2018?

      C has been an evergreen language and played a prominent role for most of the system developments that took place in the last few decades. C programming was originally developed by Dennis Ritchie between 1969 and 1973 at Bell Labs and was made for general-purpose, imperative computer programming, that supported structured programming, lexical variable, scope, and recursion etc.

      Today, we have lots of programming languages to choose and learn but as a beginner, everybody has a question “Which programming language should I learn first?” and most of the answers that we get on the internet or through suggestions are “C”. In this article, we’ll try to find out if C Programming is still worth learning in 2018. If yes then why?

    • This Week in Rust 249

      This Week in Rust is openly developed on GitHub. If you find any errors in this week’s issue, please submit a PR.

    • Add GUIs to your programs and scripts easily with PySimpleGUI

      Few people run Python programs by double-clicking the .py file as if it were a .exe file. When a typical user (non-programmer types) double-clicks an .exe file, they expect it to pop open with a window they can interact with. While GUIs, using tkinter, are possible using standard Python installations, it’s unlikely many programs do this.

      What if it were so easy to open a Python program into a GUI that complete beginners could do it? Would anyone care? Would anyone use it? It’s difficult to answer because to date it’s not been easy to build a custom GUI.

      There seems to be a gap in the ability to add a GUI onto a Python program/script. Complete beginners are left using only the command line and many advanced programmers don’t want to take the time required to code up a tkinter GUI.

    • Containers in Perl 6

      In the first article in this series comparing Perl 5 to Perl 6, we looked into some of the issues you might encounter when migrating code into Perl 6. In the second article, we examined how garbage collection works in Perl 6. Here, in the third article, we’ll focus on Perl 5′s references and how they’re handled in Perl 6, and introduce the concepts of binding and containers.

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • What is the stance on plain packaging across Asia?

      IP practitioners are concerned that the WTO ruling on plain packaging encroaches on IP rights and could spell trouble for other industries

    • Brexit no-deal could send cigarette packaging up in flames

      The UK government’s Brexit no-deal guidance has raised uncertainty over tobacco plain packaging that uses EU copyrighted images. IP practitioners say the potential disruption to UK cigarette companies will depend on the EU Commission’s attitude to its IP

    • Indonesia, Cuba Do Not Appeal WTO Plain-Packaging Ruling

      The governments of Cuba and Indonesia today chose not to appeal a June ruling at the World Trade Organization that upheld Australia’s law requiring tobacco products sold in the country to be packaged without logos or other trademarked designs. That leaves Honduras and the Dominican Republic alone in their appeals of the decision.

      [...]

      Cuba called the panel’s report “very deceiving,” said it relied on fundamentally non-objective analysis, and that it was structured to reach a predetermined outcome. “In other words,” it said, the report was subjected to “reverse engineering.” Notwithstanding its serious concerns about the report, the country chose not to participate in the next phase. Indonesia reportedly also indicated its displeasure with the ruling but chose not to appeal.

      Australia, for its part, praised the panel for confirming that WTO rules do not inhibit the right of members to “implement legitimate, non-discriminatory public health measures.” It also noted the number of other countries which have since adopted their own plain packaging laws, including the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Hungary and Slovenia. It named others that are currently working to adopt such measures, including Canada, Uruguay, Singapore, Belgium and Chile.

      Canada, a third party to the case, applauded the panel’s decision, saying it reflects a “careful balance struck between rights and obligations to facilitate trade and a Member’s right to take legitimate public health measures.” Canada confirmed it is currently working to adopt plain packaging measures.

  • Security
    • Kali Linux 2018.3 Release

      Another edition of Hacker Summer Camp has come and gone. We had a great time meeting our users, new and old, particularly at our Black Hat and DEF CON Dojos, which were led by our great friend @ihackstuff and the rest of the Offensive Security crew. Now that everyone is back home, it’s time for our third Kali release of 2018, which is available for immediate download.

      Kali 2018.3 brings the kernel up to version 4.17.0 and while 4.17.0 did not introduce many changes, 4.16.0 had a huge number of additions and improvements including more Spectre and Meltdown fixes, improved power management, and better GPU support.

    • Kali Linux 2018.3 Ethical Hacking OS Adds iOS Research, Penetration Testing Tool

      Offensive Security announced today the release of Kali Linux 2018.3, a new snapshot of the Debian-based ethical hacking and penetration testing operating system formerly known as BackTrack Linux that brings updated components and several new tools.

      Powered by the Linux 4.17 kernel series, Kali Linux 2018.3 adds more fixes for the latest Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities, better power management, improved GPU support, and lots of updated hacking and penetration testing tools, including Aircrack-ng, Burp Suite, OpenVAS, Wifite, and WPScan. A full changelog with all the fixes and updates is available here.https://bugs.kali.org/changelog_page.php

      “Another edition of Hacker Summer Camp has come and gone. We had a great time meeting our users, new and old, particularly at our Black Hat and DEF CON Dojos,” writes the Offensive Security team. “Now that everyone is back home, it’s time for our third Kali release of 2018, which is available for immediate download.”

    • Fortnite Installer Vulnerabilities Highlight Mobile App Store Risks

      There are many good reasons why it’s often best for organizations looking to deploy or consume Android applications to use the Google Play mobile apps store.

      The discovery of a high-profile flaw in one of the world’s most popular games highlights why you should stick to apps in Google Play. Epic Games’ Fortnite is played by millions of players around the world on different platforms, including Android. Fortnite, however, isn’t available on the Google Play store for Android; rather, Epic Games decided to bypass Google and use a third-party store to deliver its game. That fact, however, didn’t stop Google from discovering a serious vulnerability that was publicly disclosed on Aug. 25.

    • Command Injection Vulnerability found in WordPress Plainview Activity Monitor v20161228 and Prior

      A command injection vulnerability has been found in the renowned personal blogging and website creation management platform: WordPress. The vulnerability is found to exist in the Plainview Activity Monitor WordPress Plugin component, and it has been assigned a CVE identifier of CVE-2018-15877.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #174
    • Latest Mirai variant leverages open source project for cross platform infections [Ed: Actually, it leverages bad devices where the passwords and usernames are both uniform, the same, among other issues]
    • Bubblewrap Security Feature Will Be Removed From Ubuntu and CentOS

      Ubuntu and CentOS are disabling a security feature which was added to the GNOME Desktop environment last year. The Security feature named Bubblewrap creates a sandbox environment that secures GNOME’s thumbnail parsers.

      Thumbnail parsers are the scripts that read files inside a folder and create a thumbnail image that can be used with the GNOME, KDE and different Linux Desktop Environments. The operation takes place whenever the user navigates to directories within the OS where there is a need to display thumbnail images.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • DLL Injection and Code Execution Vulnerability in v54.5.90 lets Hackers spread Malware
    • Back to School Essentials for Security

      Going back to school? This is a perfect time for a digital security refresh to ensure the privacy of you and your friends is protected!

      It’s a good time to change your passwords. The best practice is to have passwords that are unique, long, and random. In order to keep track of these unique, long and random passwords, consider downloading a password manager.

      As a great additional measure: You can add login notifications to your accounts, so that you can monitor logins from devices you don’t recognize.

      If you’re a regular user of a public computer, like at the school library or lab, keep in mind that public computers can remember information from your logins. Adding two factor authentication to your accounts is a great way to bolster your security. Adding a second factor in addition to your unique, long, and random password makes it much harder for someone else to access your account. There are many types of two factor authentication, including SMS text messages, apps like Authenticator, or hardware tokens like Yubikey.

    • Security reviews and microservices

      Humans don’t scale, not even linearly. In fact adding more humans probably results in worse performance. If you need to review a thousand services you will need an incredible number of people, and anytime people are involved there are going to be a lot of mistakes made. There is no secret option three where we just staff up to get this done. Staffing up probably just means you now have two problems instead of one.

      Automation is the only plausible solution.

    • WhatsApp Vulnerable to Memory Corruption and DoS Crash with Crafted Message in v2.18.61

      WhatsApp is not new to memory corruption vulnerabilities. After a series of infamous and chronically frustrating special character message circulations which would cause the application to crash fiercely until the troublesome message was deleted (note that deleting the message was a feat immensely difficult to accomplish as the application would crash repeatedly and not launch properly in the first place to allow you to delete the message), there is now another such crafted message which is lending itself to a memory corruption vulnerability in the popular instant messaging social media platform.

      The new-found Memory corruption vulnerability has been found to affect the iPhones 5, 6s, and X with iOS 10 and 11.4.1 which was the latest iOS version when the tests were conducted. The vulnerability exists in WhatsApp’s versions 2.18.61 and older on these platforms.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Skripals – When the BBC Hide the Truth

      On 8 July 2018 a lady named Kirsty Eccles asked what, in its enormous ramifications, historians may one day see as the most important Freedom of Information request ever made. The rest of this post requires extremely close and careful reading, and some thought, for you to understand that claim.

    • [Likely fabricated, see below] Bob Marley Assassination Rumours Surface: Ex-CIA Agent Allegedly Claims His Murder

      A report has many Bob Marley fans tripping. The piece contains quotes from a supposed CIA retiree named Bill Oxley. The 79-year-old is said to have confessed to the assassination of Marley. Oxley was inspired by his mortality to share his secrets from his deathbed.

    • FAKE NEWS ALERT: The CIA did NOT kill Bob Marley

      The report was first posted online by YourNewsWire.com.

      It’s one of the most notorious Fake News websites. For instance, it spread rumours that Hillary Clinton was linked to a paedophile ring.

      Another time, it claimed US authorities were plotting to assassinate Donald Trump.

      The site is registered by Sean Adl-Tabatabai, a former BBC producer who went on to work for the conspiracy theory website of David Icke, who believes the world is controlled by predatory lizards who demand human sacrifice.

      The Bob Marley article is written by Baxter Dmitry, whose other articles include fake claims that the FBI carefully deleted evidence from the Las Vegas shooting, the Pope believes Jesus has turned into Satan, and that Britney Spears had admitted to escaping from the Illuminati.

    • Germany to Shield 9/11 Plotter from CIA Amid Repatriation to Morocco – Report

      Former Al-Qaeda member Mounir al-Motassadeq, convicted of preparing the 2001 terrorist attacks, is to be released after 15 years in a German prison and sent home to Morocco. According to German media he will be taken there on board of a chartered plane in a special operation, as local security services fear that US intelligence may intercept him.

      Forty-four-year-old Mounir el-Motassadeq, imprisoned in Germany for taking part in organizing terror attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, is to be secretly deported to his homeland of Morocco after October 15, the Bild news outlet reported.

    • Ex-CIA Officer: US Intelligence ‘Likely Bluffing’ About Its Agents in Kremlin

      The New York Times reported on Friday, citing unnamed US intelligence officials, that US sources in the Kremlin who had warned about Russian intervention in the US 2016 presidential election were now remaining silent about any possible Russian plans to intervene in the upcoming congressional elections in November.

      [...]

      The story that had been fed to the New York Times reporters was also probably an attempt to spread disinformation among the Russian security services and authorities, Giraldi advised.

      “It is far more likely that US intelligence officials are trying to pull off a double bluff and convince the Russians that they have agents there in order to set off a fruitless and distracting counter-intelligence search,” he said.

      Also, contrary to insinuations in the New York Times article, there was no evidence to indicate that Russia was trying to kill US sources or intelligence agents, Giraldi added.

    • US Intelligence Sources ‘Likely Bluffing’ About Human Agents In Kremlin – Ex-CIA Officer

      US intelligence officials who told the New York Times they had high level intelligence sources in the Kremlin were probably bluffing to bolster their discredited allegations about Russia interfering in the 2016 US elections, retired CIA case officer Philip Giraldi told Sputnik.

      “Senior US intelligence officers would never so casually and publicly admit they had high-level intelligence sources in the Kremlin,” Giraldi said on Monday. “That is the most elementary of procedures.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • ‘Using Media to Create This Idea There’s a Gang on Every Street Corner’

      Janine Jackson: When local and federal law enforcement conducted an early morning raid in the Bronx in May 2016, arresting more than 100 people accused of “gang membership,” tabloids didn’t waste any ink on words like “alleged.” But the New York Times wasn’t less cartoonish: They told readers, “For the last ten years, life in the northern Bronx has largely been defined by wanton violence.” And the Times was no less quick to cheer for this kind of militarized intervention, supposedly aimed at reducing violence. CounterSpin asked writer and organizer Josmar Trujillo for some context.

      Josmar Trujillo: Raids, and gang raids in particular, aren’t new in New York City, or really in the United States. But last Wednesday’s raid, the size of it and the media hype around it, they’re expanding from the last, I’d say, two to three years. And probably even more so since the death of a police officer in my neighborhood, Spanish Harlem, last October. A lot of that had to do with the strategy of the district attorney there, Cy Vance.

    • The President Is a White-Nationalist Mob Boss—and His Base Doesn’t Care

      Diehard Trump supporters represent at most a quarter of the electorate, but dominate media discussions of the president’s standing. They shouldn’t.

    • How Do We Verify Anonymous Sources?

      In the movie “All the President’s Men,” a young Bob Woodward repeatedly goes to a dimly lit parking garage to meet with a man whose face was shrouded by shadows as he dispenses bits of information. That information fuels the Washington Post’s reporting on Watergate and, ultimately, helps lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

      The source was known as “Deep Throat,” and he became perhaps the most famous anonymous source in modern journalism history. But he wasn’t anonymous to Woodward, who near the beginning of the movie calls him from a pay phone hoping he’ll provide information about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, located in the Watergate complex.

    • Media Continues Writing Premature Obituaries for the Democratic Left

      Despite these eager obituaries, there were also plenty of wins for insurgent Democrats on August 7. Democratic Socialist and Our Revolution candidate Rashida Tlaib won her primary for the House seat in Michigan’s 13th district; since she is running unopposed in the general election, she will become the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress. James Thompson also won the Democratic nomination in Kansas’s 4th district, and will face Ron Estes in a tough race in a deep-red district. Sarah Smith came in second in Washington’s 9th district top-two primary, and will face incumbent Democrat Adam Smith in the general election. Progressive candidates also earned big wins in a number of state and local races, and Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to overturn the state’s anti-union right-to-work laws.

      More wins for left-leaning candidates came the following week on August 14. Somali refugee Ilhan Omar, who won her primary in Minnesota’s 5th district, will join Rashida Tlaib to become the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress. Randy Bryce won his primary to run for Paul Ryan’s soon-to-be-vacant seat in Wisconsin’s 1st district. Progressive Jahana Hayes won against Mary Glassman (who was surprisingly supported by a local Our Revolution chapter) in Connecticut’s 5th district, and will likely become the state’s first female African-American Democrat in Congress. Sanders-endorsee Christine Hallquist won the gubernatorial primary in Vermont, becoming the first trans woman nominated for a major political office.

      There were losses as well as wins in the August 14 primary, like Kaniela Saito Ing in Hawaii’s 11th district. Yet the major wins on August 14 made the premature obituaries of Sanders’s candidates look like wishful reporting.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Internet Content Moderation Isn’t Politically Biased, It’s Just Impossible To Do Well At Scale

      The narrative making the political rounds recently is that the big social media platforms are somehow “biased against conservatives” and deliberately trying to silence them (meanwhile, there are some in the liberal camp who are complaining that sites like Twitter have not killed off certain accounts, arguing — incorrectly — that they’re now overcompensating in trying to not kick off angry ideologues). This has been a stupid narrative from the beginning, but the refrain on it has only been getting louder and louder, especially as Donald Trump has gone off on one of his ill-informed rants claming that “Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people.” Let’s be clear: this is all nonsense.

      The real issue — as we’ve been trying to explain for quite some time now — is that basic content moderation at scale is nearly impossible to do well. That doesn’t mean sites can’t do better, but the failures are not because of some institutional bias. Will Oremus, over at Slate, has a good article up detailing why this narrative is nonsense, and he points to the episode of Radiolab we recently wrote about, that digs deep on how Facebook moderation choices happen, where you quickly begin to get a sense of why it’s impossible to do it well. I would add to that a recent piece from Motherboard, accurately titled The Impossible Job: Inside Facebook’s Struggle to Moderate Two Billion People.

    • Event: Amnesty International Hong Kong hosts 8th Human Rights Documentary Film Festival

      The festival will feature six documentaries focusing on five human rights themes: peace and freedom, migrant workers, freedom of speech, civil society, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, democracy, and internet surveillance.

    • When Freedom of Expression Isn’t Free: Journalism, Facebook, and Censorship in Bhutan

      On August 6, a Bhutanese journalist was sentenced to three months in prison for libel. The journalist had written a post on her personal Facebook account about a woman mistreating her 6-year-old stepdaughter. The post went viral, the police and other related agencies became involved. There were testimonies made in defense of the journalist by several parties, but the court found them to be “inadmissible.” The court verdict, besides meting out this punishment, asked the journalist to post an “apology statement” addressed to the “victim” – not the child, but the stepmother – on Facebook and to keep it for a month.

      This is the second time a Bhutanese journalist has been dragged to court for defamation via Facebook. I was the other journalist, the first to be the defendant of such a defamation suit in the country in 2016. The case, which involved a property dispute, received international attention and was considered important for freedom of expression in Bhutan. I would have been sentenced to three years in prison for libel had the case not been withdrawn at the end of the trial by the plaintiff. I did not see the end as having been a victory for me. There was no judgment in favor of a constitutional right.

      The Constitution of Bhutan guarantees every Bhutanese the fundamental right to free speech, opinion, and expression. But there are many ways in which this is curtailed. For instance, civil servants are “gagged” by the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations, a section of which, called Civil Service Core Values, states: “A civil servant shall not criticise his agency and the Royal Government.”

    • When the news media is news: A new book details censorship and self-censorship in the Chávez regime

      Since Hugo Chávez became President of Venezuela in 1999, approximately 21 journalists have been attacked every year; others lost their jobs, or were murdered. The escalation of violence against the press was because of the implementation of a systematic policy of harassment of freedom of expression that ended up framing the press as the main enemy of the revolution.

      [...]

      Which media organizations supported Chávez’s candidacy and his rise to power? Which channel was the first to make the decision to split the screen between government programming and their own content during the coup d’état attempt on April 11, 2002? Who was behind the departure of Teodoro Petkoff from El Mundo? The book answers these questions, and many more.

    • Defending the Digital Commons: A Left-Libertarian Critique of Speech and Censorship in the Virtual Public Square

      Is it now progressive to argue that essential liberties and rights should yield to private corporate power? I ask because the notion that the freedom to transmit and receive information is properly limited on the grounds that businesses profit from the control of ideas has always struck me as a rightwing position: liberty exists beyond the government—or in spite of it. In the rightwing view, the government is not something that should necessarily defend the civil rights of individuals in all circumstances, but something that, in its neutrality, perpetuates the privileges of elites as a class. Yet an argument has emerged on the left appealing to the supposed right of private corporations to legally censor speech as justification for suppressing objectionable expressions and opinions.

      The case that prompts this essay is the suppression of Alex Jones and InfoWars (its podcasts, webcasts, etc.), a fringe media outfit with a rightwing bent and an aggressive edge, by several large social media platforms—including Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify—for violating their policies against “glorifying violence” and “hate speech.” Jones is notorious for promoting what are popularly called “conspiracy theories,” such as the claim that the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 was a false flag operation designed to bring the population under greater government control. Although Facebook, for example, has been aggressively censoring pages and posts for more than a decade, Jones’ infamy has drawn attention to the practice. “Glorifying violence,” Facebook explains in a statement released to the media, “violates our graphic violence policy.” “Hate speech” is evidenced by “dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”

    • Facebook Censorship, Mad Ben Nimmo and the Atlantic Council

      Facebook has deleted all of my posts from July 2017 to last week because I am, apparently, a Russian Bot. For a while I could not add any new posts either, but we recently found a way around that, at least for now. To those of you tempted to say “So what?”, I would point out that over two thirds of visitors to my website arrive via my posting of the articles to Facebook and Twitter. Social media outlets like this blog, which offer an alternative to MSM propaganda, are hugely at the mercy of these corporate gatekeepers.

      Facebook’s plunge into censorship is completely open and admitted, as is the fact it is operated for Facebook by the Atlantic Council – the extreme neo-con group part funded by NATO and whose board includes serial war criminal Henry Kissinger, Former CIA Heads Michael Hayden and Michael Morrell, and George Bush’s chief of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, among a whole list of horrors.

      The staff are worse than the Board. Their lead expert on Russian bot detection is an obsessed nutter named Ben Nimmo, whose fragile grip on reality has been completely broken by his elevation to be the internet’s Witchfinder-General. Nimmo, grandly titled “Senior Fellow for Information Defense at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab”, is the go-to man for Establishment rubbishing of citizen journalists, and as with Joseph McCarthy or Matthew Clarke, one day society will sufficiently recover its balance for it to be generally acknowledged that this kind of witch-hunt nonsense was not just an aberration, but a manifestation of the evil it claimed to fight.

      There is no Establishment cause Nimmo will not aid by labeling its opponents as Bots. This from the Herald newspaper two days ago, where Nimmo uncovers the secret web of Scottish Nationalist bots that dominate the internet, and had the temerity to question the stitch-up of Alex Salmond.

    • Billionaire Steve Wynn, Who Once Tried To Kill Nevada’s Anti-SLAPP Law, Loses Defamation Case Under That Law

      Back in 2015, we wrote about some apparent backroom dealing in Nevada, in which the legislature seemed poised to get rid of that state’s very good and thorough anti-SLAPP law. As a reminder, anti-SLAPP laws are designed to stop an unfortunately common practice of wealthy individuals and companies from suing critics and reporters for defamation, even though the defamation cases themselves had no chance. The plaintiffs knew that merely dragging the defendant to court would be costly in terms of time, money and general stress. Anti-SLAPP laws were a way to deal with that unfortunately common practice usually by (1) putting the immediate burden on the plaintiff to show a likelihood of success and then dismissing the case quickly if they fail to do so, (2) halting the expensive and time-consuming discovery process, and (3) often making the plaintiffs pay the defendants’ legal fees. The idea is that this is a deterrent to frivolous lawsuits, while leaving legitimate defamation lawsuits unharmed. As we’ve pointed out for years, unfortunately, only about half of the states have such anti-SLAPP laws, of varying quality, and there is still no federal anti-SLAPP law.

      In 2013, Nevada passed one of the best anti-SLAPP laws in the country. But, by 2015, there was an effort underway to throw it out. Nevada-based lawyer, Marc Randazza, pointed out that it appeared that billionaire Steve Wynn was a driving force behind the effort to kill Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law, perhaps in response to having recently lost a defamation lawsuit in California, thanks to California’s own anti-SLAPP law. Thankfully, that effort failed.

    • Conservatives: Stop Crying Wolf On Tech Bias Or No One Will Ever Take You Seriously

      Aha! A big tech company caught red handed pushing its progressive agenda. Well…not so fast. Rather than uncovering compelling evidence of bias, this article’s author and its promoters merely reveal their ignorance of how search engines work.

      First, the author seems to conflate Google Search and Google News, two products which use different algorithms and serve different functions. Google News is a searchable news aggregator and app (with some overt editorial functions), whereas Google Search tries to give users the most useful and relevant information in response to a query.

      In order to determine what constitutes a relevant and useful result, search engines use complex algorithms to rank the quality of different pages based on a variety of signals such as keywords, authoritativeness, freshness or site architecture. A big part of this quality determination is based on outside links to a site – an idea going back to Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s work at Stanford in the late 1990s that culminated in the creation of the PageRank algorithm.

      Page and Brin realized that incoming links to a site served as a proxy for quality markers like authoritativeness, trustworthiness and popularity. Today, Google Search is much more complex, utilizing complex machine-learning functions like RankBrain and an evolving set of algorithms with names like Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin and Pigeon. However, incoming links are still a key factor. Additionally, while Google uses manual quality raters to test new algorithm changes, they do not use them on live search results.

    • Donald Trump: “Rigged” Google Search Is Hiding Positive News About Me

      Fake news and manipulated content are rapidly becoming prevalent in our daily life. While many common people have been subjected to appalling abuse and digital misinformation, the USA President himself has claimed to have become a target of “bad stories.” And this time, he has blamed Google. Look at the tweets and see it for yourself.

    • How To Get Your Dissident Ideas Heard In The New Media Environment

      I often say that my long-term goal here is to become obsolete so that I can focus on making art and poetry. Ideally this will look like our society shifting to a mode of operation that is so healthy that there is no longer any demand for an Australian political blogger who points out the fact that it’s wrong to manipulate public thought with mass media and drop explosives on children, but I’ll also settle for a world in which there are enough people doing this sort of thing that I’m no longer wanted or needed in this role.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Fugitive Fraudster Who Demanded Half Of Facebook Arrested After Three Years On The Run

      It’s been a while since we last wrote about Paul Ceglia. If you don’t recall, way back in 2010, Ceglia suddenly claimed that years earlier, he had hired Mark Zuckerberg to do some software development, and bizarrely (and literally unbelievably), that part of the contract for Zuck to work on Ceglia’s project… was an agreement to hand over 50% of Facebook, which didn’t even exist yet. Making it more ridiculous, Ceglia then claimed some weird interest amounts, and therefore was demanding ownership of 84% of Facebook. The whole thing was nonsensical, and while Zuckerberg admitted he had done some work for Ceglia prior to starting Facebook, nothing about the supposed contract made any sense at all. Beyond the bizarre nature of the contract Ceglia claimed he had with Zuckerberg, it quickly became clear that other evidence Ceglia presented, including purported emails, didn’t look real.

    • Trust Us, We’re Secretly Working for a Foreign Government: How Australia’s Proposed Surveillance Laws Will Break The Trust Tech Depends On

      In the last few years, we’ve discovered just how much trust — whether we like it or not — we have all been obliged to place in modern technology. Third-party software, of unknown composition and security, runs on everything around us: from the phones we carry around, to the smart devices with microphones and cameras in our homes and offices, to voting machines, to critical infrastructure. The insecurity of much of that technology, and increasingly discomforting motives of the tech giants that control it from afar, has rightly shaken many of us.

      But latest challenge to our collective security comes not from Facebook or Google or Russian hackers or Cambridge Analytica: it comes from the Australian government. Their new proposed “Access and Assistance” bill would require the operators of all of that technology to comply with broad and secret government orders, free from liability, and hidden from independent oversight. Software could be rewritten to spy on end-users; websites re-engineered to deliver spyware. Our technology would have to serve two masters: their customers, and what a broad array of Australian government departments decides are the “interests of Australia’s national security.” Australia would not be the last to demand these powers: a long line of countries are waiting to demand the same kind of “assistance.”

      In fact, Australia is not the first nation to think of granting itself such powers, even in the West. In 2016, the British government took advantage of the country’s political chaos at the time to push through, largely untouched, the first post-Snowden law that expanded not contracted Western domestic spying powers. At the time, EFF warned of its dangers —- particularly orders called “technical capability notices”, which could allow the UK to demand modifications to tech companies’ hardware, software, and services to deliver spyware or place backdoors in secure communications systems. These notices would remain secret from the public.

    • Ron Wyden Wants The DOJ To Provide Answers On Stingray Devices’ Disruption Of Emergency Call Service

      The FBI has admitted — albeit not that publicly — that Stingray devices disrupt phone service. Spoofing a cell tower has negative effects on innocent phone users as the device plays man-in-the-middle while trying to locate the targeted device. An unsealed document from a criminal prosecution and assertions made in warrant affidavits alleging “minimal” disruption are all we have to go on, at least in terms of official statements.

      Supposedly, Stingrays are supposed to allow 911 service to continue uninterrupted. But it’s hard to square that with the fact every phone in the device’s range is forced to connect to the Stingray first before being allowed to connect with a real cell tower. In some cases, the device might force every phone in range to drop to a 2G connection. This may still allow 911 calls to take place, but almost any other form of communication will be impossible as long as the Stingray is in use.

      Ron Wyden’s staff technologist, Chris Soghoian (formerly of the ACLU), will be fielding answers from the DOJ and FBI about 911 service disruptions, if those answers ever arrive. Wyden’s office has sent a letter [PDF] demanding to know the extent of cell service disruption when Stingrays are deployed. And he’d also like to know if these agencies are being honest about the negative side effects when agents seek warrants.

    • Sen. Wyden Confirms Cell-Site Simulators Disrupt Emergency Calls

      It is striking, but unfortunately not surprising, that law enforcement has been allowed to use these technologies and has continued to use them despite the significant and undisclosed risk to public safety posed by disabling 911 service, not to mention the myriad privacy concerns related to CSS use. What’s more, a cell-site simulator wouldn’t just disrupt service for the specific person or persons being tracked but would likely disrupt service for every mobile device in the area as it tricks every phone in the area into connecting to the fake base station in search of the target phone. This could be especially dangerous during a natural disaster when IMSI catchers are being used to locate missing persons in damaged buildings or other infrastructure, cutting off 911 service at a time like that could be a grave danger to others trapped in dangerous situations.

      Harris Corporation claims that they have the ability to detect and deliver calls to 911, but they admit that this feature hasn’t been tested. Put bluntly, there is no way for the public or policy makers to know if this technology works as intended. Thanks to the onerous non-disclosure agreements that customers of Harris Corp and other CSS vendors’ customers have regularly been required to enter into there is very little public information about how CSS work and what their capabilities are. Even if a security researcher did audit a CSS, the results would be unlikely to ever see the light of day.

      Furthermore, even if Harris’ technology works the way they claim it does, they are far from the only manufacturer of CSS devices. There are several other companies that manufacture such technology and we know even less about the workings of their technologies or whether they have any protections against blocking 911 calls. Cell-site simulators are now easy to acquire or build, with homemade devices costing less than $1000 in parts. Criminals, spies, and anyone else with malicious intent could easily build a CSS specifically to disrupt phone service, or use it without caring whether it disrupts 911 service.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • American Muslim Challenges Warrantless Border Device Search From An Unexpected Legal Angle

      This motion is normally used in criminal cases to argue for the return of property seized by the government. Lazoja was never accused of a crime, nor was she given any justification for the phone search. Her phone was returned to her intact 130 days[!] after it was seized, so she technically has her property back already. But with the help of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (last seen challenging the TSA’s suspicionless surveillance program “Quiet Skies”), Lazoja is hoping to force the federal government to delete any of her data it still has in its possession.

      The motion [PDF] details Lazoja’s experience with US customs officials, who took her into a room and demanded she unlock her phone for them. She refused, so the CBP seized it, giving her a receipt for her phone and sent her on her way without her personal property. Lazoja alleges a number of Constitutional violations and cites recent phone-related Supreme Court decisions, but it’s unlikely these arguments will be availing, what with the courts’ deference to the government’s assertions that border security trumps individual rights.

    • Suspected CIA black site in Thailand to become tourist destination

      Not many tourist attractions promote themselves by saying “there’s nothing to see here”. But the Ramasun Camp Historical Museum in north-eastern Thailand isn’t your average destination: it’s among the locations suspected of hosting a CIA black site and secret torture prison.

    • CIA ‘black site’ in Thailand where terrorists linked to 9/11 and the Bali bombings ‘were waterboarded and tortured’ opens to tourists
    • More Than 60 Years After His Brutal Murder, Emmett Till Deserves Justice

      The Justice Department has reopened the Emmett Till case at a time when we’re constantly reminded of how much racial injustice persists in the US.

      Sixty-three years ago, Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley made the unbearably painful decision to have an open coffin funeral for her 14-year-old son Emmett. On Aug. 28, 1955, Emmett was tortured and murdered by white men in Mississippi for allegedly acting disrespectfully toward a white woman.

      The sight of Emmett’s body, mutilated beyond recognition, spread throughout the world in photographs published in Jet Magazine and other outlets. The shocking sight so outraged people in the United States and in other countries that it helped spark the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. That outrage did nothing to assure accountability for Till’s death — no one was ever found guilty in spite of confessions in Look Magazine by one of the murderers.

      In July, the United States Department of Justice announced that an investigation of Emmett Till’s lynching will be reopened. Skepticism about the motives of the administration and the fact that such an investigation is decades late does not change the fact that a new, credible investigation is sorely needed as a necessary examination of the inexcusable racism that existed in 1955 and, sadly, persists today.

      Till’s murder was not the aberrational act of two men whose behavior fell outside of the norms of society. It was instead just one of a long series of examples of racial violence perpetrated in the name of preserving white supremacy and protecting white women from black men. Given the accusation that Till had wolf-whistled at the white wife of one of the murderers, it was not surprising that violence would result in 1955 Mississippi. Nor was it a surprise that an all-white, all-male jury would refuse to hold the white defendants responsible for the murder despite clear and convincing evidence of their guilt.

    • FBI, Border Patrol Bypass Hate Groups As Leading Perpetrators Of Anti-Muslim Incidents

      The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed suit on August 8 against Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other federal agencies, which it accuses of creating “a kind of second-class citizenship” for American Muslims.

      The lawsuit argues these agencies use an interagency watchlisting system that separates American Muslims from their children, denies them employment opportunities, prevents them from traveling by air, and rejects or delays their immigration benefits.

      CAIR’s challenge comes months after an annual report on the status of civil rights for Muslims in the United States, which found more Islamophobic episodes were instigated by federal agencies than either hate groups or individual bigots.

      The report, based on complaints made to or investigated by CAIR, found the number of anti-Muslim incidents rose 17 percent between 2016 and 2017. It described some of the personal experiences of discrimination.

    • Embattled Garbage Hauler Co-Owns Dump With Person Expelled From Trash Industry, Records Show

      On Friday, the agency that oversees New York City’s commercial trash industry suspended the license of Sanitation Salvage, saying the Bronx company posed an “imminent danger to life and property” after two fatal accidents and a spate of other collisions. The agency outlined a pattern of unsafe practices including unlicensed vehicle operators, drivers working excessive hours and high rates of failed safety inspections for Sanitation Salvage trucks.

      But a ProPublica review of records shows that the oversight agency may have overlooked another potential impropriety hiding in plain sight: The owners of Sanitation Salvage are co-owners of a Bronx garbage dump with a person who was expelled from New York City’s commercial trash industry years ago.

      State and city records show that the Squitieri brothers, who run Sanitation Salvage, jointly own Metropolitan Transfer Station with Rosemarie Isabella, who was a principal of Isabella City Carting. In 2013, the Business Integrity Commission, or BIC, the city agency charged with oversight of private trash companies, revoked Isabella City Carting’s license, citing its long and troubled history in the mob-controlled industry and the fact that the company’s barred founder was still actively collecting payments from its clients.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Move Along’ By Sihasin

      Several hundred immigrant children remain in the custody of the United States government, separated from their parents. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department have escalated the war on immigrants by deciding domestic violence and gang violence are no reason to grant individuals asylum. The family of a child that died shortly after she was released from the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a $40 million lawsuit.

      To challenge the anti-immigrant policies of the government under President Donald Trump, a collective of artists compiled songs for an album called “Never Illegal.”

      “Never Illegal” is a “collective statement from artists across the U.S. that we are better than the events that are taking place at the Mexican border. No human being is never illegal, and no child should ever be separated from their loving parents,” the album’s Bandcamp page states.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • When ISPs Tell Seniors Net Neutrality Laws Will Increase Their Bills, They’re Lying and Losing

      The fight to secure net neutrality protections for Californians keeps showing how far ISPs and their surrogates will go to make a buck off of ending the free and open Internet. The latest maneuver is a flood of deceptive robocalls targeting seniors and stating that net neutrality will raise their cell phone bills by $30 a month and slow down the Internet. It’s not just a lie, it’s proof that you’ve successfully put them on the defensive by contacting your representatives about net neutrality.

      The robocalls don’t mention net neutrality by name. Instead, they simply assert that S.B. 822 will raise their bills and slow down their Internet. If ISPs decided to make this true by coordinating to raise prices in reaction to net neutrality legislation it would probably be illegal under federal antitrust law. There is no evidence that says net neutrality harms ISPs to the point where they must raise prices to make money. In fact, the evidence says the exact opposite. The fact that this is even possible reveals that we seriously lack sufficient competition in the wireless market. Such intentional misrepresentations demonstrate the extent major ISPs oppose any legal requirements to keep the Internet free and open, even after it has been discovered that they would go so far as to upsell public safety during an emergency in California.

      The thing is, we know that none of these large companies is operating on so small a margin that complying with net neutrality would “force” them to raise their prices. We also know net neutrality rules have never raised their operational costs. We know these things because the evidence is already publicly available.

    • Verizon couldn’t have restricted Santa Clara County’s internet service during the fires under net neutrality

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and his staff are fond of taking to Twitter to assert that, in the just over two months since the repeal of the FCC’s 2015 network neutrality rules took effect, the “Internet remains free and open” — and that opponents’ concerns that unconstrained broadband providers will act in a way that harms consumers and competition are overblown. The 2015 rules prohibited broadband providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T from picking winners and losers by blocking, throttling or otherwise discriminating against or favoring certain Internet traffic.

    • Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting For The FCC, FTC To Punish Verizon For Screwing Firefighters

      We’ve noted how the telecom industry been having great success in the Trump era eliminating FCC, FTC, and state authority over telecom monopolies. The underlying industry justification is that gutting consumer protections will somehow magically improve competition and spur investment by regional telecom monopolies, a decades-old claim that has never been true, and yet somehow never dies. In reality, when you kill regulatory oversight of natural monopolies (without shoring up the underlying competition issues beneath), the problem only tends to get worse. It’s something you probably noticed if you’ve had any interactions with Comcast lately.

      Last week the perils in this particular course of action were laid bare when Verizon was busted first throttling and then trying to upsell first responders while they were trying to combat wildfires in California. Gigi Sohn, one of the ex-FCC staffers that helped craft the rules, did a good job pointing out how the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” order didn’t just kill net neutrality,

  • DRM
    • Denuvo Announces Plan To Fail To Combat Online Game Cheaters After Failing To Stop Piracy With Its DRM

      On the one hand, look, cheaters in online games suck out loud. These cheaters break the online gaming experience for all the non-cheaters out there. Perhaps more importantly, anti-cheating software is going to become a very real market ripe to be exploited, given the explosive growth in competitive online eSports and online gaming in general. If any company or group of companies could manage to end this infestation for gamers, they’d deserve a hero’s parade.

      On the other hand: this is Denuvo. Few companies have rivaled Denuvo’s boisterous claims and posture coupled with the failure of its product. It would be very easy to change out the references to anti-cheating software in the Irdeto quote above and replace them with references to Denuvo’s DRM and map that onto how Denuvo talked about its DRM product but a few years ago. Same promises, different product. I can only assume that anyone partnering with Irdeto for Denuvo anti-cheating software are basing that decision more on the reputation of Irdeto than Denuvo.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Brazil’s patent backlog may resolve without fast-track procedure

      Forces against Brazil’s patent system may have killed the proposal to fast-track pending applications, but examiners’ individual productivity could solve the backlog in the long term

    • Trademarks
      • Tai Chi Tea: Beware of TM Infringement

        A difficulty here is that Zheng Cai represented himself pro se and did not exactly follow either TTAB or Federal Circuit procedure. In particular, Cai presented a set of factual assertions and images in his brief, but did not follow the particular brief filing rules. Because of the procedural failure, the TTAB refused to consider the materials presented — finding that Mr. Cai “introduced no evidence.” As Manafort can attest — it is difficult to win a case without presenting any evidence.

    • Copyrights
      • Honest Government Ads Takes On EU Parliament’s Plan To Censor The Internet With Article 13

        If you’re in the EU and this kind of clueless, dangerous regulating concerns you, speak out now. If you’re not in the EU, it still helps to speak out about this. Contact the EU Parliament or just spread the word so that others know just how much damage the EU may do to the internet if this moves forward.

      • How The EU May Be About To Kill The Public Domain: Copyright Filters Takedown Beethoven

        Over in the EU Parliament, they’re getting ready to vote yet again on the absolutely terrible Copyright Directive, which has serious problems for the future of the internet, including Article 13′s mandatory censorship filters and Article 11′s link tax. Regrading the mandatory filters, German music professor Ulrich Kaiser, has written about a a very disturbing experiment he ran on YouTube, in which he kept having public domain music he had uploaded for his students get taken down by ContentID copyright claims.

      • Save the date: CC Global Summit is happening May 9-11 in Lisbon!

        Since 2015, the CC Summit has nearly doubled in size. We’ve lined up two great venues to host this international event. Workshops, talks, planning sessions, and small group sessions will be held in Museu do Oriente, a vibrant new museum in a refurbished industrial building on the Alcântara Waterfront. Our keynotes and our Friday night party will be held at Cineteatro Capitólio, a major Art Deco cultural landmark that recently reopened its doors. The event will be co-hosted by CC and CC Portugal, and we owe tremendous gratitude to the CC Portugal team for their insight and assistance. We also want to congratulate and thank Teresa Nobre and Timothy Vollmer, our Program Committee Chairs, for stepping up to lead our community planning.

      • US Copyright Office Review Board denies UEFA copyright protection over Starball logo

        Although the World Cup is over, this Kat can’t keep his mind off thinking about MORE football … or soccer (as Americans call it).

        In 2016, the Union des Associations Européennes de Footbal (UEFA) filed an application with the US Copyright Office to have the famous Starball logo registered as a copyright work of two-dimensional visual art. The Starball logo is composed of a round ball, made up of black stars, with white polygons in the negative space between the stars. The shapes are arranged into a circular space, with the outer stars curved to follow the circumference (see below).

      • USTR: Mexico Agrees To Raise IP Enforcement Standards With The US

        Mexico and the United States have reached a preliminary agreement to raise standards of enforcement of intellectual property rights, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR). Among the terms, the agreement appears to toughen requirements for internet service providers in protecting against copyright theft and extend copyright terms, and might make it harder for Mexico to agree elsewhere to strengthen its protection of geographical indications.

      • US Trade Rep Appears To Misreport Its Own Trade Agreement To Include Copyright Extension

        Soooooooo, you’ve probably heard the news on Monday about how the Trump adminstration had struck a preliminary trade agreement with Mexico to replace NAFTA. Most of the attention over the deal has to do with the lack of Canada being a part of it, with Mexico making it clear it still thought that this was a new deal with both the US and Canada and President Trump repeatedly acting as if this deal was a “take it or leave it” deal for Canada, and if they left it, it would just be US and Mexico.

        There will, of course, be plenty of time to dig into the details of what’s in the actual agreement, but on stuff that matters to us, it already looks bizarre. The USTR put out a “fact sheet” about the intellectual property part of the agreement and it’s causing quite a bit of consternation. In particular, it claims that copyright will be extended to life+75 years. Literally no one has been asking for this. While the movie and recording industries have pushed to extend copyrights in the past, this time around, they more or less acknowledged that it was a bridge too far to keep extending copyrights this long, and some have even expressed a willingness to shorten copyright terms.

        But there’s been a lot of confusion about what the “life+75 years” even means here — and it now seems quite likely that the USTR simply misunderstood its own agreement (yes, really). Current in the US, for works made for hire or corporate works, copyright lasts 95 years, and for those made by individuals, it’s life+70 years. In Mexico, it’s been an upward ratchet from life+50 years, to life+75 years, to life+100 years as of 2003. There were some stories that during TPP negotiations, Mexico had pushed for life+100 years in the US as well, but that seemed like a non-starter.

        So why would the USTR give an okay for life+75 years when basically no one in the US is still pushing for such a thing, and in fact seem to be in general agreement that, if anything, the term should go in the other direction? Either the USTR negotiators have no idea what they’re doing (possible!), don’t realize why this is a big deal (also possible) or are misreporting what’s actually in the agreement. It appears the last one is likely. While the USTR told reporters on a call that they absolutely mean extending copyright to life+75 years, after that, USTR representatives started claiming that this is not an extension of copyright, but was merely supposed to be setting the floor on copyright terms of 75 years, not “life plus 75 years,” in which case copyright wouldn’t change in either country. But, because this administration appears to be so clueless, someone at the USTR may have taken this news and mistakenly claimed it was now life plus 75, rather than a 75 year floor.

      • New Campaign Aims to “Save Music” Ahead of EU Copyright Filter Vote

        In just 15 days’ time, MEPs will again vote on the now-controversial copyright proposals of Article 13. The legislation would see platforms such as YouTube compelled to introduce upload filters, to prevent unlicensed content being offered to the public. The new ‘Love Music’ campaign, supported by powerful industry players, aims to ensure a thumbs-up from MEPs. But the opposition is out, in force

Instead of Stopping Software Patent Grants the USPTO Actively ‘Advertises’ Such Patents, e.g. Patents on Cryptocurrencies

Tuesday 28th of August 2018 08:48:47 AM

The USPTO isn’t being impartial or compliant with respect to SCOTUS

Summary: Patent applications on blockchains/cryptocurrencies should be tossed out based on 35 U.S.C. § 101, but the numbers-driven US patent office continues to demonstrate its reluctance to reject such software patents (same at the EPO)

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) definitely needs to step in, possibly joined by courts like the Federal Circuit, and tackle (e.g. by inter partes reviews (IPRs)) the plague of “blockchain”-themed patents that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) keeps granting and even promoting in spite of 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice. Cryptocurrencies are gaining a foothold/traction in a lot of places. This poses a threat/risk to today’s large banks and financial institutions because it weakens their monopoly/oligopoly. Bank of America is still trying to trip up its competitors using bogus software patents, as we mentioned on Monday (early morning). All the usual suspects (Intuit, Wells Fargo, IBM, and Bank of America) want their competition terrified of patents even if they’re invalid/bunk abstract/software patents that would be rejected by courts. To quote one new report:

The Bank of America is the succeeding largest United States bank regarding its total assets. The bank has filed a manifest with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that published on 23 August. This development is similar to the patents that are awarded, or functioned, by many multinational establishments such as Intuit, Wells Fargo, and IBM.

Bank of America simply wraps patent barbwire around cryptocurrencies [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s all over the news this week (not just towards the weekend).

“They’re not machinery or chemistry or whatever.”Why are such patents being filed and often granted? Because of hype? Cryptocurrencies are a relatively new concept and the same can be said about blockchain, but they’re still abstract concepts. They’re not machinery or chemistry or whatever.

This problem goes well beyond finance. VoIP-Pal.com v Twitter was mentioned here before (e.g. earlier this month) in relation to venue shifting, which invokes TC Heartland. VoIP-Pal.com has already been going after other companies and it faces legal challenges, e.g. with IPRs filed against its patents. These tactless attempts to drag patent litigation to totally irrelevant (to the defendant) states was mentioned yesterday by Patent Docs. To quote:

Last month, in VoIP-Pal.com, Inc. v. Twitter, Inc., District Judge Richard F. Boulware, II of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada issued an Order granting a Motion to Change Venue filed by Defendant Twitter, Inc. The dispute between the parties began when Plaintiff VoIP-Pal.com, Inc. filed suit against Twitter, asserting infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,542,815 and 9,179,005. Following a stay of the case due to pending proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, Twitter filed its Motion to Change Venue, VoIP-Pal.com filed a response to Twitter’s Motion, and Twitter filed a Reply to VoIP-Pal.com’s response. Prior to issuing its Order, the District Court held a hearing on the matter and ordered Twitter to file a Supplemental Declaration to address whether it had any physical equipment or leased any space in Nevada, including space for data storage, or other support equipment or hardware.

The District Court began by noting that for the purposes of determining venue under the patent venue statute, the location where a defendant corporation “resides” is limited to the corporation’s State of incorporation, citing TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514, 1517 (2017). The District Court also noted that in view of TC Heartland, the Federal Circuit addressed the question of where a defendant corporation has a “regular and established place of business” under the patent venue statute in In re Cray Inc., 871 F.3d 1355 (Fed. Cir. 2017). In Cray, the Federal Circuit set forth three requirements to establish the second prong of the § 1400(b) venue test: “(1) there must be a physical place in the district; (2) it must be a regular and established place of business; and (3) it must be the place of the defendant” (In re Cray, 871 F.3d at 1360), all three of which must be satisfied for venue to be proper.

These abstract software patents would likely be voided by PTAB, but in the meantime we assume that VoIP-Pal.com hopes for a quick settlement (over these dubious patents). Therein lies the great danger associated with the USPTO granting software patents in the first place.

Pen One Acquisition Group is a Patent Troll Indirectly Connected to Microsoft and There’s No Simple Solution to Such Problems

Tuesday 28th of August 2018 07:54:06 AM

Dominion Harbor too is connected to Microsoft and it’s hiding behind lots of shells in Texas

Summary: The latest example of patent trolls that receive their patents from Microsoft’s troll, Intellectual Ventures, and the urgent need for a permanent solution which isn’t just Microsoft’s ‘protection’ racket [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20]

THE USPTO has facilitated patent trolling by saturating the ‘market’ with lots of low-quality patents — something which the EPO too is nowadays doing. Cleaning up this mess can take decades. Some trolls have as many as thousands of proxies, e.g. Intellectual Ventures. These proxies, in turn, use their own proxies too, e.g. Dominion Harbor. It’s far from trivial tracking who controls who because they register a lot of shells so as to obscure things (see the above diagram which relates to Dominion Harbor’s ‘enforcers’).

“Limiting patent scope (a la Alice) and actively voiding patents accordingly would be ideal.”A patent troll tackled by a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes review (IPR) is called “Pen One Acquisition Group,” which according to Robert Jain (Unified Patents) is merely a ‘proxy’ of Equitable, which is led by Dean Becker and remains closely connected to Intellectual Ventures (in turn heavily connected to Microsoft). Here is what Jain wrote this week about something which had happened on Friday:

On August 24, 2018, Unified Patents and Pen One Acquisition Group (an Equitable IP subsidiary and NPE) filed a joint motion to terminate the previously instituted IPR2017-02167 pursuant to settlement. U.S. Patent 7,281,135, the subject of the IPR petition, is directed to an identity verification system.

Sounds like a software patent.

Meanwhile, LOT Network’s Seddon was speaking to Watchtroll (he had spoken to IP Watch a couple of years ago). It’s what we dubbed “a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” back in May because it’s “in effect a reinforcer of the status quo.” They market themselves as the answer/solution to trolling and now they claim to have enlisted almost 300 members. From yesterday’s article:

Ken Seddon, the CEO and president of LOT Network, told IPWatchdog that members sign the exact same 10-page agreement, which attaches a non-exclusive conditional license to that company’s patents. This license protects other members in the event that one of the patents to which the license is attached ever becomes owned by a patent assertion entity (PAE), thereby preventing the PAE from asserting the patent against LOT Network members.

As we explained at the start of the summer, LOT Network is not the solution to the problem (the same can be said about OIN); the trolls need to actually lose their patents and PTAB is one way for achieving this. Having said that, there are far too many patents out there which trolls actively (but covertly) use for blackmail. Limiting patent scope (a la Alice) and actively voiding patents accordingly would be ideal.

Patents on Steroids: ITC is Rushing Embargoes Before the Facts Are Even Known

Tuesday 28th of August 2018 06:18:47 AM

Hytera (company from Shenzhen, China) is barred — using patents — by a US company with six times as many employees (and a lot more US patents)

Summary: When patents are put ahead of justice itself there’s greater risk that wrongly-granted patents and inappropriate allegations of patent infringement would result not only in lawsuits but also fast injunctions/embargo orders

WE have long argued that ITC helps US-based firms embargo foreign competition. It does this with prejudice and it’s almost always deciding against non-US companies. It’s doing it again.

“It does this with prejudice and it’s almost always deciding against non-US companies.”This time the ITC decided (“Notice of Initial Determination”) before the facts were even known; it’s like the EPO‘s “Early Certainty” (except for actual sanctions/embargo) and in the case of the USPTO the quality of patents is questionable and merits a review at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), perhaps with an appeal to the Federal Circuit. To quote one of three reports published about that yesterday [1, 2, 3]:

The US International Trade Commission has released its Notice of Initial Determination, regarding Motorola’s patent infringement case with Hytera. The intial determination was first unveiled in July, in favour of Motorola. ITC will now conduct a mandatory review of the initial determination and come out with a final one by 6 November.

Is this really justice or just a “mob lynch” like the nationalist trade wars of the Trump administration? Only yesterday we saw a front group of patent zealots (AEI) publishing “Chinese intellectual property theft” and IAM, the patent trolls’ think tank, saying that “Huawei [of China] transferred hundreds of patents to Qualcomm in months after NDRC settlement” (Qualcomm‘s patent aggression is widely documented).

“This is the sort of vision laid out by UPC proponents in Europe.”This isn’t about whether China or Hytera is infringing; it’s about whether ITC offers proper due process or just shoots first, asking questions later. We have already seen the ITC even ignoring PTAB rulings and causing financial damage/ruin. This is the sort of vision laid out by UPC proponents in Europe.

Links 27/8/2018: Microsoft Bribery and Corruption, Many GNU Releases

Monday 27th of August 2018 06:27:09 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • US probe into Microsoft software sales in Hungary

      The US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched an investigation into Microsoft over possible bribery and corruption in connection with software sales in Hungary.

    • What Linux does better than Windows

      Linux-based operating systems are free alternatives to Microsoft Windows and MacOS, which ships with Apple computers.

      While Linux technically only refers to the kernel, the core program of an operating system, it is often used as shorthand for any operating system that uses Linux.

      However, for a fully functioning computer several other programs are required in addition to the kernel. GNU is a major source of such programs for Linux-based systems.

      Aside from the cost, openness, and freedom, which are often covered in comparisons like these, there are a few practical places where Linux operating systems shine in comparison to their premium-rated counterparts.

      You will also find many articles talking about the improved security and privacy you can have by running a Linux distribution. Those are important issues, but for the purposes of this one we will focus on user experience features.

  • Kernel Space
    • Development cycle of Linux 4.19 kernel series starts

      Linus Torvalds has started the development cycle of the Linux 4.19 kernel series, reported Softpedia News.

      Torvalds has published the first Release Candidate for Linux 4.19, two weeks after the Linux 4.18 kernel series was launched.

      “So two weeks have passed, and the merge window for 4.19 is over. This was a fairly frustrating merge window, partly because 4.19 looks to be a pretty big release, and partly just due to random noise,” said Torvalds.

      The report stated that Linux 4.19 will bring many changes with it, including updated graphics and networking drivers, core kernel and networking improvements, and updated filesystems.

    • linux-4.18-ck1, MuQSS version 0.173 for linux-4.18

      Announcing a new -ck release, 4.18-ck1 with the latest version of the Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler, version 0.173. These are patches designed to improve system responsiveness and interactivity with specific emphasis on the desktop, but configurable for any workload.

    • MuQSS Scheduler Updated For The Linux 4.18 Kernel, CK Patches Available

      Independent Linux kernel hacker Con Kolivas has announced his 4.18-ck1 kernel as well as the latest release of his MuQSS scheduler.

      MuQSS, or Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler, remains the scheduler he is focused on and successor to BFS for improving the responsiveness/interactivity of desktop systems and more. MuQSS 0.173 is the new release and its primary change is compatibility with the Linux 4.18 kernel code-base.

    • Linux Foundation
      • IoT.nxt joins leading global companies as a Linux Foundation silver partner

        South African innovator in Internet of things (IOT) technology and strategy, IoT.nxt, joined a stellar community of global companies as a silver partner of The Linux Foundation, in June.

        “There are great opportunities to use open source software in IOT applications and we are excited to join the international community driving understanding and implementation of Linux developments and what this can deliver to companies and also individuals. Open source allows for incredible collaboration across companies, industries, organisations and individuals to solve particular technology challenges and drive value,” says IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Window Scaling

        One of the ideas we had in creating the compositing mechanism was to be able to scale window contents for the user — having the window contents available as an image provides for lots of flexibility for presentation.

        However, while we’ve seen things like “overview mode” (presenting all of the application windows scaled and tiled for easy selection), we haven’t managed to interact with windows in scaled form. That is, until yesterday.

        [...]

        When an owner size is set, the window gets compositing enabled. The composite pixmap is allocate at the owner size instead of the current size. When no compositing manager is running, the automatic compositing painting code in the server now scales the output from the output size to the current size.

        Most X applications don’t have borders, but I needed to figure out what to do in case one appeared. I decided that the boarder should be the same size in the output and current presentations. That’s about the only thing that I could get to make sense; the border is ‘outside’ the window size, so if you want to make the window contents twice as big, you want to make the window size twice as big, not some function of the border width.

      • Keith Packard Takes On X.Org Window Scaling With Input Handling

        X.Org/X11 veteran Keith Packard has started working on better support for independent window scaling with the X.Org stack that would also allow for input handling with the scaled windows.

        With Keith’s virtual reality (VR) work for the Linux stack pretty much squared away, his latest X.Org improvement effort is around window scaling with desktop compositors. While X.Org compositors have already been able to deliver scaled window contents — such as from the “overview” on the GNOME Shell, alt-tab switchers, etc — the current architecture has not supported interacting with these scaled windows — such as proper input event handling.

      • AMD Releases Radeon Pro V340 With Dual Vega GPUs & 32GB HBM2

        AMD used VMworld 2018 to announce the Radeon Pro V340 graphics card, which features two Vega GPUs.

        The Radeon Pro V340 features two Vega GPUs and a total of 32GB of HBM2 memory with SR-IOV/MxGPU virtual desktop infrastructure support intended for data-centers with visualization workloads and supporting up to 32 virtual machines with the graphics card (1GB vRAM per guest).

      • NVIDIA Introducing NV_memory_attachment For OpenGL

        The newest OpenGL extension being sought for inclusion into the graphics API’s registry is the NV_memory_attachment.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • AtCore/Atelier update August ’18

        It has been sometime since I’ve written about our progress with AtCore and now that I find myself with a bit of down time Its time to give you all an update. Since the end of May we have landed 32 commits from 4 contributors. I would like to first thank our newest contributor Leandro Santiago for taking time to contribute to AtCore.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Realtek on the LVFS!

        Realtek have been really helpful and open about the hardware, which is a refreshing difference to a lot of other hardware companies. I’m hopeful we can get the new plugin in fwupd 1.1.2 although supported hardware won’t be available for a few months yet, which also means there’s no panic getting public firmware on the LVFS. It will mean we get a “works out of the box” experience when the new OEM branded dock/dongle hardware starts showing up.

  • Distributions
    • Linux Operating System Market 2018 Global Share,Trend,Segmentation and Forecast to 2025
    • Reviews
      • Guix System Distribution 0.15.0 and ReactOS 0.4.9

        While both of the projects I experimented with this week are driven by very interesting concepts (GuixSD offers a purely free system with advanced package management and ReactOS attempts to be an open source replacement for Windows) there are limiting aspects to both projects which would keep me from running them on a regular basis.

        GuixSD has a package manager that I like. I’ve used related technology through NixOS in the past and loved how easy it was to rollback problems, manage accounts and skip forward or backward instantly through installed package versions. Where I feel GuixSD let me down was in its limited hardware support (there are no non-free drivers or firmware) and its limited documentation. There are instructions for using GuixSD when all is going well, but nothing I felt was helpful when the package manager was not operating the way I expected.

        ReactOS, while a completely different operating system with its own kernel, installer and programs, ultimately had a similar problem: limited hardware support. The operating system’s Live edition did not work in either of my environments and I had to work around having a limited set of drivers. Another issue with ReactOS was the stability. The system tended to lock up if more than a few programs were running, or if I tried to cancel an intensive task like installing a new application.

        Both of these projects present interesting ideas, however both are still (as their documentation pages point out) in an unstable stage of development. They should be used with caution and probably not as a main, day-to-day operating system.

    • New Releases
      • Puppy Linux’s Cousin Quirky Xerus Gets Last Release Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

        Coming five and a half months after version 8.5, Quirky Linux 8.6 is here as an incremental update consisting of various updated components and bug fixes, and it’s the last in the series as Barry Kauler plans to rebase the tiny GNU/Linux distribution on Canonical’s latest long-term supported Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system.

        “Quirky Linux 8.6 is the latest in the “Xerus” series, binary-compatible with x86_64 Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS, though built with woofQ and architecturally very different from Ubuntu,” said Barry Kauler in the release announcement. “Version 8.6 is an incremental upgrade from 8.5, with package upgrades and architectural improvements.”

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Tails 3.9 Anonymous OS Is Coming September 5 with TrueCrypt & VeraCrypt Support

        That’s right, we’re talking about Tails 3.9, which is currently in development with a Release Candidate ready for public testing as we speak. As we reported a few weeks ago, Tails devs planned on implementing support for opening VeraCrypt encrypted drives in the GNOME desktop environment that’s used by default in Tails.

        Tails 3.9 promises to be the first release to ship with VeraCrypt support, but it also looks like there will be support for opening TrueCrypt encrypted volumes as well, straight from your GNOME desktop. Moreover, this release will integrate the “Additional Software Packages” feature into the desktop.

      • FrOSCon 2018: Herding Docker Images

        I gave my first public talk on Saturday at FrOSCon 13. In case you’re interested in how we maintain Docker base images (based on Debian-slim) at REWE Digital, the video is already online (German). The slides are also available and a tarball, containing the slides and all files, so you do not have to copy the snippets from the slides. The relevant tool, container-diff, is provided by Google on GitHub. In case you’re interested in our migration to microservices, you can find the referenced talk given by Paul Puschmann at OSDC 2018 on Youtube (English). If you’ve any question regarding the talk don’t hesitate to write me a mail, details on how to reach out are here.

      • Derivatives
        • deepin 15.7 GNU/Linux Download Links, Mirrors, and Torrents

          deepin 15.7 GNU/Linux operating system has been released on Monday, 20 August 2018. It’s not so long after the previous 15.6 at June 2018. This updated version uncommonly brings lesser ISO size (now 2.3GB, previously 3.1GB) other than its RAM/CPU usage enhancements. So here’s the list of download links plus torrents. Happy downloading!

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) Enters Feature Freeze, Beta Lands September 27

            The Feature Freeze stage is a very important step in the development of a GNU/Linux distribution, signaling the fact that the new features have already landed for the final release and that developers should now concentrate their efforts only on addressing critical bugs and other issues that might block the final release.

            At this point, there won’t be any major new features or updated packages except for those that fix bugs. However, there are currently more than 870 packages stuck in the cosmic-proposed repository, so developers and contributors are now urged to resolve any issues and free as many packages as possible until the beta release.

          • UBports Foundation releases Linux-based Ubuntu Touch OTA-4

            Canonical once had an ambitious vision of making Ubuntu a dynamic operating system that would scale to desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones. Unfortunately, this goal was ultimately a failure — the Ubuntu Touch plan was abandoned. Later, the much-maligned Unity environment was killed off. Why did it all fail? Quite simply, as Microsoft learned with Windows Phone, it is pretty much impossible to compete with Google and Apple in mobile. Android and iOS are just too mature and too good. Ubuntu Touch had no real chance due to a lack of apps and device support.

            For those that still own devices compatible with Ubuntu Touch, all is not lost. You see, the UBports Foundation has picked up development. Today, the foundation releases version OTA-4, which is based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. It is chock-full of improvements, but unfortunately, despite the “OTA” name, you apparently cannot upgrade over the air.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Zowe! Bringing the mainframe to the open-source world

    IBM was the first major computer power to embrace Linux. Now, decades later, they along with their partners, CA Technologies and Rocket Software, have announced Zowe, a new open-source software framework that bridges the divide between modern applications and the mainframe, at Open Source Summit in Vancouver, Canada.

    Zowe is meant to provide interoperability and scalability between products. It’s also, IBM states, the first z/OS, the IBM mainframe operating system, open-source program.

    Zowe has four components. These are…

  • RedHat And SUSE Announced To Withdraw Support For OpenLDAP

    This month the OpenLDAP project celebrates its twentieth birthday! Its year of birth is 1998 when Kurt Zeilenga and others decided to consolidate patches that had been spread on mailing lists and news groups to improve the original standalone University of Michigan LDAP server code (slapd). After Kurt Zeilenga resigned, Howard Chu took over the role of the chief architect of the project. The OpenLDAP project traditionally follows the Unix design philosophy “one job – one tool”. Under Kurt Zeilenga’s lead, development of OpenLDAP as reference implementation of the “Lightweight Directory Access Protocol” (LDAP) primarily has been driven by Internet Drafts and RFCs. This focus on openness and interoperability turned the project into an important landmark in the landscape of network services, being supported by all major enterprise Linux distributions which offered OpenLDAP as a maintained component of their products.

  • Qiskit: IBM’s open source quantum computing framework

    Researchers, scientists, academics, hobbyists, businesses — all of these groups are represented in the community of Qiskit, the open source framework based on IBM’s quantum computing programme that is opening up access to real quantum computing in the cloud for everyone.

    Quantum Information Science Kit (Qiskit) is just over a year old, and it followed up the IBM Quantum Experience, IBM Q Experience for short, a programme that put quantum computers on the cloud (for the first time) so researchers and developers could tinker with the almost brand-new field of computation.

    Since opening up the Q Experience, hobbyists have created games and composed music using real quantum computers, while scientists and researchers are using qubits to solve problems that were previously too difficult to solve.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Rep of the Month – August 2018

        Please join us in congratulating Abhiram Ravikumar, our Rep of the Month for August 2018!

        Abhiram Ravikumar is an amazing contributor from Bangalore India and a long time Mozillian contributing as a Rep since November 2015. He is the so-called backbone of the Bangalore community keeping activities going in and around the region.

      • Bitslicing with Quine-McCluskey

        Part one gave a short introduction of bitslicing as a concept, talked about its use cases, truth tables, software multiplexers, LUTs, and manual optimization.

        The second covered Karnaugh mapping, a visual method to simplify Boolean algebra expressions that takes advantage of humans’ pattern-recognition capability, but is unfortunately limited to at most four inputs in its original variant.

        Part three will introduce the Quine-McCluskey algorithm, a tabulation method that, in combination with Petrick’s method, can minimize circuits with an arbitrary number of input values. Both are relatively simple to implement in software.

      • TenFourFox FPR9b3 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 9 beta 3 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). This version has site-specific workarounds for Github’s sudden hostility to TenFourFox (fixed using the same workaround we use for Imgur) and pages that use the new version of Cloudflare RocketLoader (by essentially defeating it). I also reduced idle time deferral for a couple rare crashes on the test systems that seemed to be from low memory and added a little tuneup for HTML5 parsing from Firefox 55.

        Of the security patches that landed in this version is a specific one for an issue that affects 10.5, but not 10.4. It’s more of an information leak than anything else and wouldn’t seem to be very common, but I was able to exploit it on the test network, so now it’s worked around. Our implementation is completely different from Mozilla’s largely for performance reasons since we only have two operating system flavours to worry about.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • OpenSSH 7.8 released!

      OpenSSH 7.8 base source code was released on August 24, 2018. It includes many new features such as a fix for the username enumeration vulnerability, changes to the default format for the private key file, and many more. Additionally, support for running ssh setuid root has been removed, and a couple of new signature algorithms have been added.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Org mode – Life in Plain Text

      Org mode is a mode for the Emacs text editor. It’s designed to keep notes, maintain TODO lists, plan projects, and author documents with a fast and effective plain-text system. It’s particularly strong at scheduling tasks.

      The system includes a lightweight markup language for plain text files allowing lines or sections of plain text to be hierarchically divided, tagged, linked, and so on.

      Org mode is, in fact, a powerful system for organizing projects, tasks and notes in the Emacs editor. Major features include fast outline and table editing, TODO lists, agendas, scheduling and deadlines, cross-references and hyperlinks to arbitrary resources, as well as customisable document publishing in PDF and HTML from simple plain text markup.

    • Mes Becomes An Official GNU Project, Mes 0.17 Released To Bootstrap GNU/Linux Distros

      Mes is the newest project under the GNU umbrella and this package is intended to help bootstrap GNU/Linux distributions like GuixSD.

      GNU Mes 0.17 was released this weekend as the first release as being an official GNU project. Mes consists of a self-hosting Scheme interpreter and a Nyacc-based C compiler written in Scheme. From this Scheme interpreter to build its C compiler, it can then build a (slightly patched) TinyCC compiler and in turn that resulting TinyCC compiler can go on to building GCC 4.7, Glibc 2.2.5, and Binutils 2.20 for getting a toolchain in place to go on to build the rest of the GNU/Linux platform.

    • GNU dico – News: Version 2.6

      New version of GNU dico is available for download. This version introduces support for Guile 2.2 and later, and for Python 3.5 and later. Support for Guile 1.8 has been withdrawn.

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 13 new GNU releases!

      For announcements of most new GNU releases, subscribe to the info-gnu mailing list: https://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/info-gnu.

      To download: nearly all GNU software is available from https://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/, or preferably one of its mirrors from https://www.gnu.org/prep/ftp.html. You can use the URL https://ftpmirror.gnu.org/ to be automatically redirected to a (hopefully) nearby and up-to-date mirror.

  • Programming/Development
    • Golang 1.11 is here with modules and experimental WebAssembly port among other updates

      Golang 1.11 is here with modules and experimental WebAssembly port among other updates

      The Golang team released Golang 1.11 rc1 two weeks back, and now the much awaited Golang 1.11 is here. Golang 1.11, released last Friday, comes with changes and improvements to the toolchain, runtime, libraries, preliminary support for “modules”, and experimental port to WebAssembly.

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • New Dutch Foundation To Address High Medicines Pricing Announces Plan To File Complaint With Competition Authority

      The newly established Dutch Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation has announced its first action to address unreasonably high medicines prices in the Netherlands. The Foundation will request the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets to look into the price hike for the medicine chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) by the company Leadiant Biosciences Ltd (formerly Sigma-Tau). CDCA is used for the treatment of children and adults with cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (CTX), a rare genetic metabolic disease that affects around 60 people in the Netherlands.

      [...]

      According to the EMA an “orphan designation” means that it is used to treat life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions that affect no more than five in 10,000 people in the European Union, or are medicines which, for economic reasons, would be unlikely to be developed without incentives. However, CDCA was already being used for the indication CTX. Considering the small number of patients involved, one can question whether the cost for preparing the registration file to obtain the formal thumbs up by the EMA justifies the monopoly price Leadiant is now asking.

      “We think that Leadiant’s behaviour is socially unacceptable,” said Wilbert Bannenberg, chairman of the Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation. “Leadiant is abusing its dominant market position, and the Foundation will, therefore, submit an enforcement request to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets that can and should counter these abuses.”

  • Security
    • Ubuntu and CentOS Are Undoing a GNOME Security Feature

      Current versions of Ubuntu and CentOS are disabling a security feature that was added to the GNOME desktop environment last year.

      The feature’s name is Bubblewrap, which is a sandbox environment that the GNOME Project added to secure GNOME’s thumbnail parsers in July 2017, with the release of GNOME 3.26.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 111 – The TLS 1.3 and DNS episode
    • Charter Spectrum Security Flaw Exposes Private Data Of Millions Of Subscribers

      Last year you’ll recall that the cable and broadband industry lobbied the government to kill off broadband privacy rules at the FCC. The rules were fairly basic, requiring that ISPs and cable operators clearly disclose what data is being collected and sold, but also provide working opt out tools for users who didn’t want to participate. The rules also contained restrictions requiring that consumers opt in to more sensitive data collection (financial), as well as some requirements that ISPs and cable ops adhere to standard security procedures, and quickly inform consumers when their private data was exposed by a hacker.

      In recent months, the cable industry has been showcasing how it’s simply not very good at keeping its websites secure. Comcast, for example, has seen three privacy breaches in almost as many months, with security researcher Ryan Stevenson discovering numerous, previously-unreported vulnerabilities that potentially exposed the the partial home addresses and Social Security numbers of more than 26.5 million Comcast customers.

    • What is Code Injection on Windows?

      Code injection is common on Windows. Applications “inject” pieces of their own code into another running process to modify its behavior. This technique can be used for good or evil, but either way it can cause problems.

    • You Should Pay Attention to These Android Manufacturers if You Care About Updates

      The Android update landscape is a disaster that has plagued the OS for years. “Fragmentation” is a common complaint against Android, but some manufacturers are starting to take the necessary steps to correct this years-long problem.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Is Hyper-Threading a Fundamental Security Risk?

      Ever since Intel introduced Hyper-Threading (known generically as Symmetric Multi-Threading), debates about whether or not to disable the feature have almost entirely revolved around its impact on performance. Back when the feature debuted, it wasn’t unusual for programs to misinterpret what it meant for a system to have a virtual CPU core as opposed to a second physical chip (back then, it was one core to a socket, no exceptions, and programs didn’t differentiate between a physical and a logical CPU core). As software and operating systems were updated, HT settled down and it’s less common today to need to shut it off to preserve performance. But in the wake of Spectre, Meltdown, and Foreshadow, serious concerns have been raised about the security implications of Hyper-Threading.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Iran vs America: history’s scars

      At this perilous moment it might help for the historical aspect of this potential clash to be recognised, particularly by European states which share the habit of dwelling on the past. In the UK’s search for lost empire, for example, key events of fairly recent vintage, the Dunkirk episode and the aerial Battle of Britain in 1940-41, are endlessly revisited as signposts of greatness and demonstrations of national character.

      That tendency to look beyond the immediate context ought to give British commentators the imagination to grasp the importance of past events in Iran. A prime instance is the downfall of Iran’s prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953, orchestrated by Washington and London – a coup which climaxed sixty-five years ago this week (see “The Iran complex: why history matters”, 26 January 2012).

      It was done in retaliation for Iranian attempts to take control of their own oil industry, then held by western states, principally Britain. Its success ushered in the quarter-century reign of the autocratic Shah, whose regime Washington viewed as an essential prop in the regional alliance constraining Soviet ambitions at the height of the cold war.

    • Pakistan Should Ditch Washington

      To the despair of State Department professionals (who are very professional indeed), the art and craft of US diplomacy have taken a very nasty knock since the appearance of Donald Trump on the world stage. To be sure, the practice of sending rich political donors to prime ambassadorial posts such as Berlin, Tokyo and London has been the norm for decades, but some of Trump’s appointees have stretched the bubble of amateurism a little too far. The man in Germany, for example, was only in the job for a day, in May this year, before he gave orders that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately,” which début debacle was met with derision by the German people.

      The pompous ass in London, billionaire Woody Johnson, was interviewed by Sky News in June 2018 and cast an intriguing light on his expertise concerning his host country. When he was asked the nature of his relationship with Sadiq Khan he replied “with whom?” The interviewer then told him that Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London, whereupon Woody announced that “My relationship is very good.” Then President Trump informed London’s Sun newspaper that “You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London. He has done a terrible job.”

      There’s not much joined-up diplomacy in the Trump Administration, but although these examples are mildly amusing and show the people involved to be the fools they are, there is a most serious side to the international diplomatic devastation created by Trump, the man so well described by dismissed White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman as “tawdry, cruel, vindictive.”

    • Ahed Tamimi: illegally blond

      The widely circulated images on social and mainstream media of the defiant Ahed Tamimi, a 16 years old girl with blond hair and blue eyes surrounded by heavily armed big dark-skinned Israelis (Israeli soldiers from the Givati Brigade and later members of the Israeli police force who are usually Mizrahi) is a big blow not only to the Israeli well-oiled propaganda (hasbara) machine but also, and perhaps even more crucially and dangerously, to its self-image or the way it perceives itself and would like to project itself to the so called western public and media.

      Are not the Israelis the fair-skinned enlightened westerners and the Palestinians the dark oriental barbarians? How dare the Palestinians have blond ambition? How do they have the chutzpa to invert the light/dark formula so deeply ingrained in the Israeli psyche as well as in the western public imagination?

      [..].

      But the Jewish State’s attempt to monopolize blond for its war against the Palestinian people was sabotaged by Ahed Tamimi, a young girl with a blond ambition and a big chutzpa. In today’s world the desire for blondness reflects the balance of world power. The west is associated with blond, and therefore blond is associated with power.

      Ahed Tamimi is a powerful icon of resistance and it is therefore not so surprising (though, obviously, infuriating) that Ben Caspit an Israeli journalist in Maariv, one of Israel’s major newspapers, suggested that “in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.

      Yet, as in the famous Banksy’s image of a girl in a pink dress searching an Israeli soldier with a machine gun laying to his side and leaning against the Apartheid Wall the role reversal enacted by the Banksy girl and echoed by the defiant young blond girl Ahed Tamimi invites us to reflect on, or rather to resist, the ongoing failure of Israel to recognize the humanity of others.

    • Why Do Our Heroes Always Let Us Down?

      Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is drawing fire from the antiwar left, and not for the first, second or third time. The same leftist contingent which has been energizing Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign and elevating her to the public spotlight has been voicing increasing concerns about her antiwar platform temporarily vanishing from her campaign website, about her walking back from her position on the Israeli government’s massacring of Palestinian protesters with sniper fire, about her weirdly hawkish criticism of the GOP as being “weak on national security”, and her deference to the establishment Russia narrative.

      And now, as multiple outlets have documented in articles released in the last few hours, many of Ocasio-Cortez’s supporters have been upset with a statement she made praising the recently deceased warmongering psychopath John McCain and his blood-soaked legacy.

      “John McCain’s legacy represents an unparalleled example of human decency and American service,” tweeted the candidate upon McCain’s death, which, for anyone who cares about the late Arizona senator’s relentless push to inflict military violence around the world at every opportunity, is incredibly offensive. McCain was easily the single most virulent warmonger on Capitol Hill, so praising him and his legacy as exemplary of human decency necessarily clashes with the “Peace Economy” platform that has had so many of Ocasio-Cortez’s supporters so excited.

    • Drone terrorism is now a reality, and we need a plan to counter the threat

      When two drones, each equipped with a kilogram of powerful plastic explosives, were used on August 4 to attempt to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, it may have ushered in a foreboding new era—terrorism by unmanned aircraft.

      The use of weaponized drones by lone individuals and small groups—some acting as proxies of nation-states—is no longer just a concern for the future, but very much for the present. The proliferation of certain emerging technologies has effectively diffused power and made it available at the lowest levels.

    • I killed Bob Marley, ex-CIA agent confesses

      79-year-old Bill Oxley, ex-agent of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is re-writing the history of the death of reggae legend Bob Marley, claiming he actually killed the legend.

      Marley tragically died aged only 36-years-old, leading music lovers world-wide to grieve as the Jamaican icon’s life and career were cut short following a four-year battle with cancer.

    • I killed Bob Marley – ex-CIA agent Bill Oxley, confesses – Laila’s Blog

      79-year-old Bill Oxley, ex-agent of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has confessed that he killed Bob Marley, the reggae legend.

    • Ex-CIA agent confesses, reveals the gift he gave Bob Marley led to his death

      It is well known that late iconic musician Bob Marley died on May 11, 1981 from complications traced to cancer. In July 1977, Marley was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe.

      Contrary to urban legend, this lesion was not primarily caused by an injury during a football match that year, but was instead a symptom of the already-existing cancer.

    • The Left’s About Face on the CIA – Truth TV – WATCH NOW

      On Liberty Nation’s Truth TV, join Leesa K. Donner and Joe Schaeffer as they dig deep into why the left now has the hots for the CIA despite years of calling out the Covert State.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Parsing Mueller’s Lies: Why Julian Assange Makes the Perfect Foil

      Mueller would have us believe that his indicted Russians created Guccifer 2.0 to deflect blame for the DNC hack away from themselves by having the online persona claim responsibility but deny being Russian. This plan seems, not to put too fine a point on it, kind of stupid. Since a Russian spy couldn’t be expected to admit his identity, it’s hard to imagine G2’s denials would have had any credibility. And, since G2’s taking credit for the hack would attract more attention to it, it seems just as likely as not that such a plan would have increased speculation that the Russians had hacked the DNC.

      [...]

      Mueller also accuses his 12 indicted Russians of using the G2 identity to pass documents to WikiLeaks. Yet Mueller somehow neglected to mention that G2 himself boasted of being a WikiLeaks source several times; starting, once again, with his very first blog post.

      Mueller’s silence about G2’s multiple confessions to one of his indictment’s main allegations, though contemptible, is at least understandable. Publicly confessing to being a WikiLeaks source is, after all, the very last thing a Russian spy who secretly was one would do. Mueller couldn’t mention G2’s confessions for the same reason he couldn’t mention all the evidence G2 planted to give the impression that he was a Russian spy. Both are obviously self-refuting and, hence, make a mockery of Mueller’s allegations, which he made knowing he had no power to extradite any of the 12 indicted Russians and, hence, that none of his misrepresentations will be exposed in court.

      The clues G2 left connecting himself to Russian espionage and his repeated shout-outs to Julian Assange are as flagrant and gratuitous as they are self-refuting. And, they are equally inexplicable unless the truth is the exact opposite of what Mueller alleges and G2 was created to poison Assange’s reputation by falsely making him out to be in league with Vladimir Putin.

      But, the other two important items we’ve seen (and about which Mueller remains silent)—G2’s possessing the Trump opposition research file and Assange’s June 12 announcement that Clinton campaign emails were forthcoming—together shed a new and revealing light on the purpose behind that June 14 Washington Post story that first brought the now infamous Russian hack of the DNC to the world’s attention.

    • NSA leaker Reality Winner sentenced to more than five years in prison

      National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Reality Winner, 26, was sentenced last Thursday to five years and three months in federal prison for leaking classified documents to the press which contained allegations of Russian manipulation of the 2016 presidential election.

      Winner is the first person to be tried by the Trump Administration under the Espionage Act and according to her attorneys her punishment will be the longest sentence ever imposed for leaking classified information.

      She pleaded guilty in June at a federal courthouse in Georgia as part of a plea deal to reduce her sentence. Prosecutors from the Justice Department did not seek the maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and instead recommended a 63-month penalty.

    • The Person Advocates Say Trump Should Pardon: NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner

      Winner, who was prosecuted under the Espionage Act, accepted a plea deal that sends her to prison for 63 months for leaking to the press in 2017 information that exposed a Russian cyberattack against U.S. voting systems. It’s the longest sentence ever in federal court for leaking government information to the press.

      Seizing upon Trump’s characterization of the sentence as “unfair,” some of Winner’s advocates, including her mother, responded to the president’s tweet by saying he should exercise his authority to pardon her.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Shell Took 16 Years to Warn Shareholders of Climate Risks, Despite Knowing in Private All Along

      It took oil company Shell more than 16 years to directly warn its shareholders that climate policy posed a financial risk to the company’s business model despite knowing — in private and for decades — about the relationship between its products and climate change.

      Shell started commissioning confidential work about the impact of burning fossil fuels on the global climate as early as 1981. However, analysis by DeSmog UK and DeSmog found that Shell did not start mentioning the possibility of climate change to shareholders in annual reports before 1991 — 10 years after the company started a research stream to study climate change.

      Analysis of Shell’s annual reports and financial records at the time show the company did not give a clear warning to its shareholders about the financial risks “related to the impact of climate change” and attached to their investments until 2004.

      DeSmog UK and DeSmog have worked through Shell companies’ annual reports submitted to the UK’s Companies House and 10-K’s and 20-F forms filed under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) throughout the 1990s and early 2000s to compare what the company knew in private at the end of the 1980s and what it told its shareholders about the environmental and financial risks attached to their investment during the following decade.

    • Only African Resources, Not Migrants, Are Welcome In Western Countries

      Amidst waves of anti-immigrant populism that have crashed into European politics, the focus of what drives migration demands more attention. In Africa, specifically, the unchecked exploitation of the continent’s natural resources by corporations from outside countries has forced desperate choices upon its citizens. Migrants looking for their own modicum of economic justice have come to the West. But, once they arrive, they discover the extraordinary extents to which they must prove their “worthiness” and acceptance in the same European nations that benefited from taking their homelands’ natural resources for profit.

      Earlier this year, Mamoudou Gassama, 22, who comes from Mali, scaled four floors of a Paris apartment building to save a boy who was hanging from the balcony. For his efforts, he was granted French citizenship. Meanwhile, on a global scale, the French World Cup team won the championship this summer with a diverse team: nearly 80 percent of its members are migrants, with a third of those identifying as Muslim. François Héran, an analyst of French demographics, estimated that one in eight residents in the country is Muslim, as of 2017. Also, according to Héran, at least one-third of the 200,000 migrants who come into France annually are from Africa.

      Recently, the French Parliament adopted legislation that places new restrictions on migrants seeking asylum. It seems that even being seen as twice as “good” as the rest barely qualifies migrants for acceptance into predominantly white societies. At what superhuman level should migrants be expected to operate in order to eliminate the concerns or skepticisms aggravated by nationalistic, nativist sentiments?

    • While Trump Sweats, the West Burns

      Right now, much of the west is affected by wildfires.

      An unlucky minority will have to evacuate their homes, and some will lose their homes altogether — or even their lives. But for millions more across the west, “smoke season” is a real thing.

      Vast swaths of the west can be covered in smoke for extended periods, and inhaling the fine particles in the smoke is deleterious to one’s health.

      This year, fires resulted in the closing of Yosemite National Park and part of Glacier National Park. The Ferguson Fire in Yosemite is just one of many recent fires within the park, including the enormous Rim Fire in 2013, the fifth largest fire in California history.

      As a Californian, fires are a regular part of life.

      The Cedar Fire of 2003 in San Diego was so massive that the smoke interfered with air traffic. I canceled a backpacking trip in 2015 due to the Rough Fire in King’s Canyon National Park.

  • Finance
    • Egotopia

      Imagine Milton Friedman and Robinson Crusoe together, reminiscing about Burning Man, on a remodeled off-shore oil rig. Like the image? Welcome to seasteading. The latest in a long line of libertarian exit strategists, seasteaders aim to create self-governed, private floating platforms on the ocean. In an era of Silicon Valley excess, techno-libertarian optimism, and mainstream political malaise, exit strategies are proliferating. At the 2017 Startup Societies Summit, held without a hint of irony at the City College of San Francisco (attendees were asked for charitable donations), an array of libertarian exit strategies were on offer. Among other options one could, for example, engage in “crowdchoicing,” captured best in the Free State Project which aims to mobilize 20,000 participants to relocate to New Hampshire by 2020 where they will, according to the FSP webpage, “create a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property.” Others advocate non-territorial strategies. A younger generation of market libertarians—steeped in a vocabulary of “disruption,” “decentralization,” and “freedom”—are exploring exit strategies that embrace an encrypted existence that escapes the parameters of the state through the use of various digital technologies and encrypted mediations. (Their recent arrival in struggling Puerto Rico may be a sign of what is to come.) Its advocates eschew territorial escape in part because they already see a world in which the mediating structures of government, media, and business are collapsing. At its most optimistic, such a strategy looks toward a future of “social singularity,” a post-political and transhumanist world in which individuals can thrive entirely through decentralized, technological, and cyborgian networks.

    • Slavery and the Origins of Capitalism

      To exploit the riches of the sugar colonies and the slave trade that made it possible, a trading monopoly called (without any irony) the Royal Adventurers of England was formed. As the East India Company was to the plunder of Asia, so was this intended to pick Africa apart like a vulture. Despite the Roundhead “revolution” against the Crown, royalist merchants were eager to rely on Cromwell’s military to dispose of Dutch and Spanish rivals in the Caribbean.

      After Cromwell’s death, the monarchy was restored and fully committed to the mercantile capitalist agenda of the politicians it had once considered mortal enemies. In a partnership with the Royal Adventurers, King Charles II promised thirty acres to any aspiring colonist to help “settle” Barbados and Jamaica—a promise that was never kept to freed slaves in the South two hundred years later. New Englanders flocked to Barbados and Jamaica to take advantage of the offer. Between the two islands, Jamaica was much more attractive since Barbados had been wracked by slave uprisings small and large for decades. Some whites fled Barbados for the more tightly garrisoned Jamaica while others went to the mainland, especially South Carolina.

      [...]

      I am not exactly sure who Horne is referring to as bamboozled radicals but I will state that if you read The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in 17th Century North America and the Caribbean, you will be guaranteed to treat the term “bourgeois-democratic revolution” with the skepticism it deserves. As we plunge deeper into the netherworld of capitalism in its death throes, it will become clear that the only genuine revolution in human history will be the one we carry out to end class society and create a new one based on genuine respect for all human beings whatever their skin color, gender, sexual preference or ethnicity. The alternative is ruin.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Maine Clean Election Candidates to Receive Long-Awaited Funds

      Meetings of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices do not usually give way to moments of high drama. But supporters of public financing breathed a deep sigh of relief on Thursday after the bipartisan commission’s four members ruled to release $3.5 million in previously held-up funds to 120 candidates in races for the state House, Senate, and Governor.

      This decision was only the latest chapter in a long-running partisan saga about Maine’s Clean Election Program. First passed in 1996 by citizen initiative, the voluntary program provides public funds to candidates for governor and state Legislature if they raise a threshold amount in $5 donations. In exchange for public financing, participants agree to certain restrictions, including spending limits and a prohibition on using other funds. In addition, qualifying candidates in general elections against privately financed rivals can receive supplemental funding provided they continue to collect small donations.

      Public financing regimes like Maine’s are critical engines for democratic participation in the age of super PACs and dark money. They lower barriers to entry for candidates who may not have access to large pools of money and encourage candidates to spend time courting ordinary citizens instead of behind-closed-doors dialing for dollars from well-heeled special interests.

    • America Is Married to the Mob

      There’s nothing original about this metaphor, which quite likely isn’t even a metaphor. It’s been there all along: Pulitzer-winning reporter David Cay Johnston, who has followed Donald Trump’s career for four decades, has written extensively about Trump’s longtime connections to organized crime, as have numerous other journalists, including Salon’s Heather Digby Parton. Those connections clearly go back to Trump’s early days of doing shifty deals in the bottomed-out market of 1970s Manhattan real estate, where the only way to build anything, buy anything or make anything happen was to work with the made men and their allies.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Observer Editorial: On censorship and discourse

      This Editorial Board represents many different political ideologies, none of which will ever dictate the opinions that members of the tri-campus community choose to express through our Viewpoint section. The column in question met our standards of publication in that the author did not use ad hominem attacks or profanity in his writing, and he included citations to his sources. As long as the column remains relevant and continues to adhere to our standards of publication, for us to not run the column would be political censorship, which we do not practice at The Observer.

    • David Horowitz Freedom Center Declares Victory Over Censorship Attempt

      Just as in Alice in Wonderland: the verdict before the trial. The Freedom Center was judged guilty of “hate crimes” without a chance to protest and its online fundraising was blocked. Because on line fundraising is the lifeblood of our organization, this was an existential threat to our future. We were mobilizing for a costly legal proceeding against Mastercard when, on Friday afternoon, four days after the attempt to destroy us, WorldPay and MasterCard backed down and informed us they were restoring our online services and donations.

    • Trump social media ‘censorship’ claim is fake

      There is little evidence to back up Donald Trump’s persistent claim that social media firms “silence” or “censor” conservatives, but the notion has nonetheless gathered widespread acceptance among his considerable following.

      The comments marked the second time in a week Trump has attacked tech platforms over alleged political bias.

      Days earlier, he tweeted that “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen.”

      Both Twitter and Facebook deny bias in policing their platforms, and various studies suggest conservatives are thriving on social media.

    • Alphabet widens scope of comeback in China

      Google has faced sharp criticism, including from its own employees, for its efforts to rebuild an internet search presence in China after quitting the country eight years ago over censorship issues.

      But for Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet, the opportunities in the world’s largest internet market may be too good to resist. And the full scope of the company’s interest in China now appears to be broader than just internet search.

      The latest hint came from Waymo, the driverless-car company that was spun out of Google in 2016. Chinese media noticed this week that the business had quietly registered a Shanghai subsidiary in May, suggesting that it wants a piece of an industry that the Chinese government has made a priority.

    • Google plays censor

      An internal crisis is unfolding at Google as the tech giant, which once operated with the motto “don’t be evil,” plans to assist China in the state-sponsored suppression of information.

      According to leaked documents reported by the Intercept, Google has created a censored version of its search engine in China that would, among other things, block certain websites and search terms about topics such as human rights, democracy, and freedom of expression.

    • Google’s China push outweighs censorship concerns

      A few weeks back, we learned Google was developing something called “Project Dragonfly”, a new search
      engine for the Chinese market that would function in compliance with Beijing’s strict rules on censorship.

      In an organisation that talks up transparency, it is ironic that only a handful of the company’s 88,000 employees knew about the project. When some of them caught wind of it, they leaked the story to an online news site, The Intercept, which broke the news and put Google’s top brass on the spot.

      Google has ventured into China before but eventually left in 2010 because it couldn’t live with the censorship rules. There was a time when Google’s corporate slogan was ‘”don’t be evil”. That altruistic philosophy has since been amended from its code of conduct to “do the right thing”.

    • Google plays censor: Tech giant is helping China suppress information
    • Hayward: Google Builds Censored Search Engine for China But Refuses A.I. Work for U.S. Military
    • The Offending Tweets That Got Me Banned for Life from Twitter

      A leaky little “bird” inside Twitter tells me these are the tweets that got me banned for life.

      I have no way of verifying this; official Twitter will not respond to my inquiries. I stand accused of dehumanizing several reporters (“targeted abuse”), using words to offend them into silence. It seems now you can judge for yourself, as it should be.

      This whole series of threads started when Trump accused the press of being “enemies of the people,” followed by Glenn Greenwald reminding us how the media enables America’s wars.

      The tweets about Sulome Anderson’s father, Terry Anderson, were cited as particularly offensive. If you don’t know his story, he was a journalist held hostage in Lebanon in the 1980s by Hezbollah. Sulome was in first grade when he was released.

      It’s hard to avoid editorializing here, but I do want to point out how quickly the offended journalists and their friends tried to shift my words into “picking on women” and similar inaccurate accusations of misogyny. I’ll also point out Twitter allowed the journalists to freely dehumanize and insult me. Note also how these journalists react to a whistleblower confronting them with the admission government officials lie, and that they accept the lies. One of the journalists who attacked me, below, once even used me as a truth-telling source during the Iraq War. Oh well.

    • DLDF Will Raise Censorship Awareness with BANNED TOGETHER Concerts Across the US

      On September 24, Joe’s Pub will present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret- a celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on America’s stages, created to raise awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in the Theater. The event will feature performances of featured selections from CABARET, CHICAGO, 3C, RENT, INDECENT, and ANGELS IN AMERICA, among other notable works, with contextual commentary by writers John Weidman and JT Rogers.

      In 2018, Banned Together will be performed during Banned Books Week, September 23 – 29, in fifteen cities across the United States, including Chicago, LA, Atlanta, Boston and more. Click here for a full list of cities.

    • Prager U’s Allie Stuckey: Facebook Ratcheting Up Its Censorship Of Conservatives
    • Tale of 2 Darcys: Oliver Darcy blames Trump for feeding the Right’s ‘censorship paranoia’, TRIPS over his old tweets
    • Conservative Censorship Hits All-Time High on Popular Social Media Platforms [Ed: No, censorship in general -- including of the left -- is now peaking]
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Your Smart Electricity Meters Can Track Every Activity, Court Ruling Warns

      Nowadays, smart devices have taken the wicked roads, contrary to the original plan of helping the citizens of the world. A few days back, we heard how remotely controlled home devices, doorbells, and thermostats are being used to inculcate fear among domestic abuse victims.

      Now another acute case of smart devices has come to light where a mere modern electricity meter has been found to interfere with home WiFi routers and many other internet devices.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Why Russia needs a grassroots campaign against political repression

      In February, details of the “Network case” – in which 11 Russian anarchists and anti-fascists are being investigated on charges of creating a terrorist organisation – became public. This organisation never existed, and even its name is a figment of an FSB officer’s imagination. The number of criminal cases for reposting “extremist” memes online is only growing (OVD-Info reported 170 such cases in 2017), and this practice is developing quicker in the provinces than in the big cities. Recently, in the Siberian town of Barnaul, there have been three cases opened against users of social networks.

      The public campaign in support of people arrested in connection to the “Network case” started well, with several actions in different cities in Russia and across the world. But it has not moved beyond that. It is mainly human rights defenders, leftists and anarchists who are supporting these new political prisoners. Now it is time for a broader campaign against political repressions and fabricated criminal cases in Russia – a campaign that will go beyond individual cases, and that will go beyond solidarity based on personal sympathies towards this or that group of political prisoners.

    • Two-Person Police Department’s Million Dollar Military Gear Grab Ends In Arrest Of Police Chief

      A tiny unincorporated town in Michigan continues to draw national heat, thanks to the police department’s apparent abuse of the Defense Department’s 1033 program. This program allows law enforcement agencies to obtain military surplus — which can include armored vehicles, aircraft, and weapons — for next to nothing through its Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO).

      This program has contributed greatly to the militarization of US police forces, allowing officers to dress up like soldiers while waging the War at Home on the constituents they supposedly serve. What happened in Thetford, however, wasn’t a sudden ramping up of military gear/tactics. Instead, the Thetford PD — which boasts two officers — simply took the 1033 program for an extended ride. Chief Robert Kenny managed to obtain 950 items through the 1033 program, valued at over $1.1 million… at least according to his own, very conservative estimate.

    • Thetford Township police chief arrested amid military equipment investigation

      Thetford Township Police Chief Robert Kenny was arrested this week in connection with an investigation into surplus military equipment his department received.

      Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell scheduled a press conference for Thursday morning to discuss “the arrest and charges” Kenny is facing.

      Court records show Kenny is charged with embezzlement and obstruction of justice dating back to 2012.

      The sheriff’s office has been investigating Thetford Township’s use of more than $1 million worth of surplus military equipment obtained through the Law Enforcement Supports Office over the past decade.

      Kenny obtained the equipment, including a large forklift down to several used sleeping bags, on behalf of the township’s two-person police department.

    • How the Trump Administration Went Easy on Small-Town Police Abuses

      On a chilly morning in December 2016, 12-year-old Bobby Lewis found himself sitting in a little room at the police station in Ville Platte, a town of 7,300 in southern Louisiana. He wasn’t sure exactly how long it had been, but the detective grilling him had been at it for some time. Bobby was a middle school student — a skinny kid with a polite demeanor — and though he got in trouble at school from time to time, he wasn’t used to getting treated like this. He was alone, facing the detective without a parent or a lawyer.

      A blank piece of paper sat on the table in front of Bobby. He and his friends were thieves, the detective insisted. They sold drugs. They trafficked guns. The detective brushed off Bobby’s denials. She knew what he was up to, and if he didn’t write it all down — inform on his friends and confess to his crimes — she’d charge him. She’d confiscate his dog, Cinnamon, she told him. She’d throw his mother in jail. Bobby was nothing but a “B” and an “MF,” as he later relayed the detective’s words to me, sheepish about repeating them. When his mother finally turned up at the station house, it seemed only to enrage the detective further. “Wipe that fucking smile off your face, and sit up in that fucking chair,” Bobby and his mother recall the detective barking at him.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Chinese intellectual property theft: Time for show trials (but get our story straight) [Ed: Nationalist front group of patent zealots does its usual]

      But even these two highly knowledgeable leaders then went on to confuse the US case against Beijing’s “pillaging” by adding a list of military IP thefts, including plans and designs related to the F35 fighter, the Patriot missile system, the Aegis Combat System, thermal imaging cameras, and unmanned underwater vehicles, among others, as examples of Chinese spying operations. The problem and confusion to the reader here is that such military espionage is considered fair game by all nations, including the US. And one hopes that US intelligence agencies have been equally diligent in ferreting out Chinese (and other nations’) advanced military designs and equipment.

    • Huawei transferred hundreds of patents to Qualcomm in months after NDRC settlement

      An analysis making the rounds in Chinese media has identified dozens of former Huawei patents that now appear on Qualcomm’s list of Chinese standard essential patents (SEPs). The two companies, which are still working to resolve in a royalty payment dispute, transacted hundreds of assets in the aftermath of Qualcomm’s settlement with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in 2015, according to USPTO records. On July 30, Qualcomm disclosed its updated version of Chinese cellular essential patent list. The full list includes 2,240 patents under 1,000 families, with 1,600 grants and over 600 applications.

    • WIPO Traditional Knowledge Committee Begins Work On Core Issues; Indigenous Peoples May Be Left Out

      The World Intellectual Property Organization’s committee seeking to find solutions against misappropriation of traditional knowledge opened this morning. While delegates are expected to negotiate wording of a potential treaty, the fund allowing indigenous peoples to participate in the discussions is empty with no foreseeable new donors, described by the chair as a historical situation. The committee is also trying to agree on recommendations for the upcoming WIPO General Assembly next month. On core issues, such as what the protection should cover, who would benefit from it, and under which conditions, delegates still have to find common positions.

    • Copyrights
      • Pirates Could Be Banned From The Internet If Music Industry Wins This Lawsuit

        The music industry has been fighting issues like piracy and copyright infringement for a very long time now.

        After giving up on the pursuit of direct infringers due to bad publicity, and deciding not to target the companies that create software and websites for online file-sharing, the recording industry is now focused on establishing copyright liability that would turn ISPs into copyright police.

Stupid European Patent: Hairdressing Salon and Mobile Building for the Same

Monday 27th of August 2018 07:38:35 AM

Are the so-called ‘inventors’ walking around and entering random buildings in an effort to identify “infringers”?


Source: EP 2700769 B1 [PDF]

Summary: Adding a window to a room is apparently an “innovation” and thus patent-eligible in the EPO; the absurdity of some European Patents now demonstrated visually, too

THE EPO suffers severe patent quality problems, but almost nobody talks about it anymore, certainly not António Campinos. He pretends that no such issue even exists. Other people are afraid to even bring up the subject and as a result, inevitably, every single day the EPO grants patent monopolies which oughtn’t have been granted.

“So an alternative title for this patent would be “Added Window”.”We’re not neglecting EPO coverage; there’s just not very much to report. We aren’t about to start a “Stupid European Patent of the Month” series (like the EFF’s in the US), but there certainly isn’t a lack of questionable European Patents (EPs), such as a recent one on chewing gum. Take a look at this patent titled “Hairdressing salon and mobile building for the same” (assigned to Bernd Andrich and Ralf Dieter Mehlmann) and look at the picture (above). Well, this grant from August 2016 and information about it circulated internally in the past. It’s about a mobile hair salon. The inventiveness (improvement over the prior art) is apparently a window. Yes, a window. Because adding a window to the room is apparently not obvious to the skilled person. So an alternative title for this patent would be “Added Window”.

Welcome to the Campinos-Battistelli EPO. Anything is now an “invention”; neither Campinos nor Battistelli invented anything (one is a banker, the latter a politician), so they might not see what’s wrong with this patent, either.

IBM Publicity Stunts Which Strive to Portray This Patent Bully as Generous, Playful and Fun

Monday 27th of August 2018 05:53:19 AM

Ignore IBM’s puff pieces about coffee and delivery drones; look for what these distract from

Summary: IBM seems to be trying to distract from its campaigns of patent blackmail, which mirror Microsoft’s patent strategy and are accompanied by heavy lobbying for software patents (those that IBM and Microsoft use for blackmail)

IBM’s USPTO-granted patents continue to be a laughing stock. Many of these are software patents and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) throws away a lot of them.

IBM’s patents are being challenged because behind the scenes IBM has been blackmailing a lot of companies; this sometimes culminates in IBM lawsuits. In fact, patent lawsuits from IBM are rather commonplace this year — to the point where a few days ago Mac Asay wrote about IBM in relation to its patent thuggery (while pretending to be a FOSS friend it’s lobbying for software patents and threatens FOSS companies). Asay suggests that IBM refrains from this blackmail and instead tries to create something. New examples of IBM’s blackmail campaign emerged only days ago:

Technology multinational IBM has taken a licence to a patent at the centre of a dispute with a San Diego-based provider of security solutions in the internet of things (IoT).

ZitoVault, which had brought a patent infringement lawsuit at the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Dallas), announced the settlement on Tuesday, August 21.

The San Diego-based company sued IBM back in April this year, accusing it of infringing US patent number 6,484,257, which covers ZitoVault’s CryptoSale software. The patent covers systems and methods that “provide a scaleable way to maintain a number of cryptographic sessions”.

Also see “ZitoVault Licenses CryptoScale™ Patent to IBM”; this was done by threats and pressure — the same thing Microsoft has been doing to FOSS for about a decade, e.g. shaking down Android/Linux OEMs.

“We’re guessing that IBM hired some PR agencies to help distract from patent news about its awful behaviour.”The above barely received any press attention however (certainly no mainstream press coverage). As a matter of fact, for almost a whole week (until the very end of last week [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), the coffee-drone marketing stunt [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] remained afloat; it’s akin to the Watson “AI” stunt and the BBC covered this PR not once but several times. Is IBM paying for this PR? We don’t want to bore readers with IBM’s PR, but they try to frame a patent of theirs as an invention that’s a gift to humanity and dozens of mainstream media publications played along. These are in fact software patents (i.e. fake/bogus patents) combined with something trivial like carrying a drink to a person. Why is the USPTO granting such patents and corporate media celebrating rather than ridiculing? We’re guessing that IBM hired some PR agencies to help distract from patent news about its awful behaviour. It is a form of googlebombing. They once tried it on me and it backfired spectacularly.

Software Patents Are Not Coming Back, Those Are Mere Buzzwords That Mislead and Overcome Rejections But Cannot Fool Courts

Monday 27th of August 2018 04:22:04 AM

Summary: The reemergence of abstract patents using trendy hype waves and buzzwords notwithstanding, there’s no evidence suggesting that courts really fall for these

AS WE last noted yesterday, patent law firms try really hard to convince people and firms to still pursue software patents, based on their misinformation. Sure, major patent offices like the EPO and USPTO may grant such patents, but that does not mean that these patents become (successfully) enforceable. Failed enforcement can cost the plaintiff a fortune (paying the defendant’s legal bills as well). Nowadays, patents can also be invalidated outside the courts, owing to Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) which receive affirmations from the Federal Circuit.

“Some applicants are using buzzwords to patent software, but these patents are still not honoured by courts and Iancu hasn’t changed this.”Hours ago Watchtroll published yet another attack (among many attacks) on PTAB’s credibility; these people are simply afraid of PTAB, knowing that PTAB is voiding thousands of software patents. Hours ago another site of patent maximalists published this “Guest Post” (advertisement/advocacy) from Richard P. Beem, falsely claiming that “[s]oftware patents and applications are making a quiet comeback under Director Andrei Iancu’s leadership of the U.S.”

This is totally false; it’s what some call “fake news” because there’s no evidence backing it. Some applicants are using buzzwords to patent software, but these patents are still not honoured by courts and Iancu hasn’t changed this. He does not control the courts. From Beem’s post:

In the hands of reductionists, the Alice formula for rejection/invalidation was easy to apply. Every invention can be reduced to an abstract idea. Whatever is left can be explained away as “routine” or “conventional.” In the last four years, many software patent applications suffered repeated rejection and the ignoble death of abandonment for lack of will or lack of funds. Even when granted, many software patents were mowed down in inter partes review (IPR) in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Yes, this has not actually changed. Iancu cherry-picked some court cases, resulting (at best) in some negligible changes.

We understand that patent law firms are desperate to sell their ‘products’ and ‘services’ (such as lawsuits), but lying to prospective clients only harms their cause. Clients don’t appreciate poor advice. In the remainder of this post we shall present our observations from this past week, showing that the only resurgence — if it can be called that at all — is that of buzzwords.

“PTAB keeps breaking new records every year (e.g. number of filings, even in spite of soon-to-be-repeated fee hikes) and its invalidation rates are very high, some might say extremely high.”
      –AnonymousPTAB has not relented. PTAB keeps breaking new records every year (e.g. number of filings, even in spite of soon-to-be-repeated fee hikes) and its invalidation rates are very high, some might say extremely high. Not only for Section 101, either. Earlier this month a technical attorney, Peter Keros, wrote about Sections 102 and 103 (prior art) in relation to a case which was mentioned here before. What’s exceptional about this case is that the Federal Circuit did not agree with PTAB, which is rare. To quote:

The Court disagreed with the PTAB, noting that while Perrodin discloses an embodiment that “happened to result in continuity,” “[n]othing about Perrodin’s algorithm required contiguity.” In re Facebookat *5. Perrodin disclosed another embodiment in which resizing one image element resulted in a grid that lacked images in one or more spaces in the grid, i.e., the image elements were not contiguous in the grid. Perrodin’s algorithm allowed noncontiguous image elements in the grid, so “Perrodin could not have disclosed the ‘rule requiring the image elements to be contiguous’” as recited in claim 1. Id.at *6. The Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s decision and remanded for further proceedings.

This case isn’t about Section 101. It’s quite rare and unusual for CAFC judges to disagree with PTAB on Section 101. Berkheimer was the only memorable exception.

A few days ago Suzanne Monyak wrote about another case of patents perishing at PTAB because Nomadix was foolish enough to think that trivial patents have merit. This one was obvious:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board on Wednesday refused to revive claims from a Canadian hotel entertainment company that two patents owned by network device maker Nomadix Inc. are invalid as obvious.

In a pair of decisions, the PTAB denied Guest-Tek Interactive Entertainment Ltd.’s request to rehear its challenges to Nomadix’s computer network systems patents, after the PTAB granted review of the patents, and then expunged that decision and denied review 10 days later.

On a move which was covered a lot earlier month (PTAB and Ex Parte Jung) Christopher Francis wrote: “This case nonetheless raised an interesting discussion of SuperGuide Corp. v. DirecTv Enters., Inc., 358 F.3d 870 (Fed. Cir. 2004), which interpreted language in the form of “at least one of A and B” to mean at least one of A and at least one of B, as well as the line of subsequent cases discussed in the Jungdecision that distinguish SuperGuide.”

“It’s quite rare and unusual for CAFC judges to disagree with PTAB on Section 101.”This isn’t about Section 101, but it shows PTAB on top of its agenda.

For new examples involving Section 101, see what the patent maximalist Charles Bieneman wrote some days ago. When even the Eastern District of Texas accepts that software patents are bunk and someone like Bieneman accepts this decision it’s pretty clear that hope for such patents is irrational and chances of withstanding a court’s scrutiny (even in Eastern Texas) are slim. The Federal Circuit, upon appeal, agrees:

In a one-line order under its Rule 36, the Federal Circuit has affirmed a decision of Judge Schroeder in the Eastern District of Texas granted a Rule12(b)(6) motion to dismiss claims of patent infringement where claims were directed to “adjusting the number of devices allowed to use a digital product (e.g., software) under a license.” Uniloc, USA, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 2017-2051 (Fed. Cir., Aug. 9, 2018). The district court decision finding claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,566,960 patent-ineligible under the Alice/Mayo test and 35 U.S.C. § 101 is discussed in this post.

Charles Bieneman separately acknowledged that at the Federal Circuit not even a Microsoft patent case can salvage software parents. This time too it’s the Eastern District of Texas backed by the higher court:

The Federal Circuit has affirmed a summary judgment from the Eastern District of Texas holding that claims directed to indexing and accessing information in large databases are patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test. BSG Tech LLC v. BuySeasons, Inc.,No. 2017-1980 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 15, 2018) (precedential) (opinion by Judge Hughes, joined by Judges Reyna and Wallach). The patents at issue, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,035,294,6,243,699, and 6,195,652, “have substantially overlapping specifications and are directed to a ‘self-evolving generic index’ for organizing information stored in a database.”

Texan judges too are starting to ‘get’ it. As Karen Kidd put it, the “Federal Circuit affirms Texas judge’s ruling that database patents failed Alice/Mayo test” (Section 101). To quote:

Three indexing software patents allegedly infringed by a Wisconsin-based party supply company are invalid because they only contain abstract ideas, a federal appeals court ruled in an East Texas case earlier this month.

The patents failed both steps in the so-called “Alice/Mayo” test, the industry standard for analyzing inventions under Section 101 of U.S. code, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a decision handed down Aug. 15.

“If a claimed invention only performs an abstract idea on a generic computer, the invention is directed to an abstract idea at step one,” the appeals court decision said. “…We must, therefore, consider whether the focus of the claims is on a specific asserted improvement in computer capabilities or, instead, on a process that qualifies as an abstract idea for which computers are invoked merely as a tool.”

The Federal Circuit agreed with an earlier ruling by a Judge Robert W. Schroeder III of the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas, who granted summary judgment in BSG Tech LLC v. BuySeasons Inc. after finding that plaintiffs’ allegations were directed to abstract ideas rather than patentable inventions. The Federal Circuit affirmed the district judge’s ruling, affirming that none of the patent claims were eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

So just because the USPTO grants some software patents doesn’t mean they’ll be honoured by courts, not even in Texas (not anymore).

“In 1990,” an article said some days ago, “software accounted for just 5% of patents filed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In 2015, that number reached 40%.”

“So just because the USPTO grants some software patents doesn’t mean they’ll be honoured by courts, not even in Texas (not anymore).”That’s the hallmark of a bubble; and that bubble is nowadays bursting. That’s really bad for the USPTO’s reputation because all these software patents that it granted for a number of decades are now bunk, worthless. The worst it can do it continue to grant these.

We’ve been carefully watching patent news over the past week, with particular focus on software patents. We are still seeing many such patents being granted despite the above trends (in courts). Odessa American, for instance, said that “Princeton Identity Receives Three New Patents for Iris Recognition Technology”. Citizentribune and other sites soon published the same thing [1, 2]. These are just software patents again. Computer vision is just software, maths. I know this because it is my field of research, which I practiced for about a decade. Can the examiners at the USPTO not see this (pun intended)? Computer vision (not processing but analysis) tasks are just algorithms.

“That’s the hallmark of a bubble; and that bubble is nowadays bursting. That’s really bad for the USPTO’s reputation because all these software patents that it granted for a number of decades are now bunk, worthless. The worst it can do it continue to grant these.”At around the same time/day we saw this new article claiming “worldwide patented software system for driver recognition.”

These are software patents and hence bunk patents except perhaps in China. SIPO is just about the only major patent office that formally accepts software patents; Software patents are not allowed in India and the rest of IP5 (China is the only exception). An article by Stuti Sinha (Khurana and Khurana) would have us believe otherwise because, quite frankly as usual, patent law firms lie or at best embellish on such matters. Citing an Amdocs case (35 U.S.C. § 101), Sinha talks about “Surviving The Clouds Of Alice Rejections” (the term “surviving” is a loaded one, insinuating that patent invalidation is the moral equivalent of manslaughter). To quote:

The Patent Statute of the US defines patentable subject matter as ‘any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter’ and any improvements. But patent cannot be granted for laws of nature, natural phenomena or abstract ideas. On June 2014, the US Supreme Court’s ruling in the Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank sent software patents down the rabbit hole. Essentially, the Court ruled that ‘implementing the abstract idea’ on a computer does not make it patentable. To determine whether claims are patent eligible or not, the Supreme Court gave a two-part test- In step 1, the Court has to determine whether the claims are directed to an abstract idea or not; Step two- If the claims are directed to an abstract idea, then the Court determines whether the claims include elements showing an inventive concept that transforms the idea into patent- eligible invention. Within two years of the decision, more than 8400 applications got abandoned while 60,000+ applications got rejected due to the decision. The ambiguity and uncertainty still reigns for both the patent owners and the defendants, making it difficult to navigate the eligibility issue.4

Amidst the rejection of software patents, there have been some decisions where the claims of the patents overcame the 35 U.S.C. § 101 challenge under the Alice Decision, giving us a hope that even this tunnel of uncertainty can reach an end.

Hope for who? Who’s “us”? Patent lawyers? Patent trolls? Besides, these people merely cherry-pick outcomes that favour their agenda while mostly ignoring the rest (the vast majority).

“…these people merely cherry-pick outcomes that favour their agenda while mostly ignoring the rest (the vast majority).”A few days ago Peter Leung (Bloomberg Law) wrote about Genedics’ US patent numbers 8,319,773, 8,477,098, 8,730,165, 8,902,225, 9,110,563, and 9,335,890. Genedics is like a patent troll (last mentioned here back in March). Leung asserted that “Vagueness of 3D Interface Patents May Have Saved Them, For Now…”

Using buzzwords and hype (trendiness) to make abstract patents look as though they’re valid even when they’re not isn’t too novel a trick. Quoting Leung:

A California-based company that makes augmented reality headsets lost its bid to knock out a patent infringement suit related to 3D user interfaces.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware Aug. 21 rejected Meta Co.’s arguments that six patents owned by Genedics LLC, a Massachusetts-based patent licensing company, are ineligible for patent protection because they cover abstract ideas without an inventive concept.

The decision shows some of the difficulties courts face when determining whether a patent covers eligible subject matter.

The Federal Circuit can overturn such decisions, as it often does.

“Iancu isn’t bringing software patents back. Iancu just strives to lower patent quality, thereby reducing confidence in US patents even further and in the process devaluing the whole.”To give some more blatant misuses of hype and buzz, here we have Intuit trying to set up patent traps to ensure its competition cannot develop (without risk of litigation). These are bunk software patents — one of which we mentioned before (Intuit has worried the cryptocurrency community with this patent). Microsoft too wants a monopoly on something evil: ‘Trusted’ Computing in relation to blockchains. As a cryptocurrency-centric site put it:

Two new patents from Microsoft reveal that the tech giant is looking to bolster its blockchain solutions with the use of trusted execution environments (TEEs), according to two filings published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) August 9.

Both applications outline how the use of TEEs could further improve security within a consortium blockchain network, which requires that specific nodes are endorsed to act as validator nodes (VNs) on the blockchain.

Those are patent applications on abstract ideas. Clearly! Will examiners see that? Also on the subject of cryptocurrency and blockchains, days ago there was a lot of press coverage such as [1, 2, 3, 4] (dozens more). The Bank of America continues to assemble a patent thicket around its perceived threat/competition:

The U.S.’s second-largest bank, Bank of America (BofA), has applied for another blockchain patent on the development of a secure crypto storage system, according to a patent document published by the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) August 23.

The patent, entitled “Block Chain Encryption Tags,” describes a system of recording and storing cryptocurrency-related transactions that are handled by enterprises. In short, the invention offers a system of data security for blockchain networks by implementing encryption and linking data units to the blocks of a certain blockchain.

In the patent document filed on April 18, 2018, the North Carolina-based bank introduced a system that includes a device with a processor that first receives a set of data elements, and then acquires an encryption key prior to encrypting the elements within the first block on a blockchain.

Why are patents like these ever being granted? Why does the USPTO openly promote blockchain patents? When will courts finally have the opportunity to tackle such patents and make it clear that adding “blockchains” to software does not make that software any less abstract? Adding words like “cloud”, “AI” and “IoT” to patents is no magic recipe, unless the principal goal is to fool examiners rather than manipulate judges.

Iancu isn’t bringing software patents back. Iancu just strives to lower patent quality, thereby reducing confidence in US patents even further and in the process devaluing the whole.

The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is Not Changing US Patent Scope, But Cases Such as Ariosa v Illumina Are Interesting Nonetheless

Monday 27th of August 2018 02:42:08 AM

Summary: Major reforms reinforced by SCOTUS (e.g. Alice against software patents, TC Heartland against patent trolls, Oil States in favour of mass invalidations on the cheap) are unchanged for the foreseeable future; we take stock of what’s coming next…

THE USPTO is not above the law. In fact, law is very much in the hands of US courts, such as the Federal Circuit or the Supreme Court, SCOTUS. Examiners at the USPTO receive guidelines, based on courts’ rulings — essentially rules by which to assess and judge patents/patent applications. They are not judges in the legal sense, but they judge applications and decide whether to award a patent.

“It is worth noting that none of these cases can impact patent scope, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), or the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA).”The difference between judgments and assessments (or a court ruling and examination) is profound; it’s important to distinguish between those two things because patent lawyers certainly conflate whenever it suits them, as we last noted yesterday. We shall revisit this subject again in a few hours.

A few days ago Alex Moss from the EFF (together with the R Street Initiative, which is typical) wrote about Ariosa v Illumina, which is an upcoming SCOTUS case concerning novelty. To quote:

There is room to debate what makes an invention patentable, but one thing should be uncontroversial: patentable inventions should actually be new. That’s what EFF and the R Street Initiative told the Supreme Court this week in an amicus brief urging it to grant certiorari and reverse the Federal Circuit’s decision in Ariosa v. Illumina [PDF]. We explained that the Federal Circuit’s decision is wrong on the law and bad for innovation, access to knowledge, and the patent system.

In Ariosa, the Federal Circuit departed from more than a century of case law to uphold a patent that claimed an “invention” that someone else had already described in a published patent application. According to the court, the description didn’t qualify as material that could invalidate the patent being challenged because it did not appear in the “claims”—the section specifying the legal boundaries of the applicant’s rights – but rather in the section of the patent application describing the nature and operation of the applicant’s work.

This case is not about patent scope (the aspect most cherished by us), but it’s still important. Watchtroll is meanwhile writing about amicus briefs striving to influence other cases dealt with by SCOTUS — something which we doubt will happen for several reasons outlined before.

It is worth noting that none of these cases can impact patent scope, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), or the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). “The Supreme Court Should Say No to Patents That Take Old Ideas Away from the Public,” the EFF said, so it’s mostly about prior art. The latter is about medicine and it says that “the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., on appeal from the Federal Circuit. The case will ask the Supreme Court to decide whether an inventor’s sale of an invention to a third party that is obligated to keep the invention confidential qualifies as prior art for purposes of determining the patentability of the invention under the terms of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA).”

So this too deals with prior art. Hatch-Waxman ANDA is nowadays back in the headlines and 6 days ago at Watchtroll Theodore Chiacchio remarked on the Federal Circuit in relation to Hatch-Waxman:

When conducting an obviousness analysis, courts examine the scope and content of the prior art; the differences between the patent claims at issue and the prior art; the level of ordinary skill in the art; and relevant secondary considerations that may shed further light on the inquiry. Graham v. John Deere Co. Of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1 17-18 (1966). One such so-called secondary consideration is the degree to which one or more commercial embodiments of the claimed invention has enjoyed success in the marketplace. Id. The rationale behind taking into account commercial success is, to the extent the claimed invention has been commercially successful (as reflected, for example, by strong sales and profits, gains in market share, and meeting and exceeding sales projections), the associated market demand would have led to development and marketing of the claimed invention sooner if the subject matter was in fact obvious (or so the thinking goes). Merck & Co., Inc. v. Teva Pharms. USA, Inc., 395 F.3d 1364, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

In order to establish that the commercial success factor supports a non-obviousness finding, the patentee must establish that a connection (or nexus) exists between the novel aspects of the patent claim(s) and the alleged commercial success. Id.; WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., 889 F.3d 1308, 1330 (Fed. Cir. 2018). In other words, the patentee must show that the novel aspects of the claim(s) are driving sales and not aspects of the claim(s) that were known in the prior art. In re Huai-Hung Kao, 639 F.3d 1057, 1069 (Fed. Cir. 2011); WesternGeco, 889 F.3d at 1330. In cases brought pursuant to the Hatch-Waxman Act, while there are exceptions, it is most common that patent challengers’ arguments focus predominantly or entirely on an alleged lack of nexus given the substantial sales typically enjoyed by the brand-name drug products that are the subject of such litigation. Though it bears noting that the mere fact that a company is pursuing a generic version of a brand-name drug, by itself, does not support a “commercial success” finding. Galderma Labs., Inc. v. Tolmar, Inc., 737 F.3d 737, 740 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical was mentioned by Chiacchio extensively, just as it was mentioned by Managing IP alongside TC Heartland — a case which limits litigation venue/s, especially for domestic (US) companies. The summary says:

Managing IP explores the foreseeable impact of the US Supreme Court’s rulings in WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical and TC Heartland v Kraft on patent damage awards

Thugs and liars from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will lobby Congress regarding patents. As noted yesterday: “As part of its 2018 Driving Innovation Roadshow, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) will host three intellectual property and innovation business roundtables in Minnesota and Illinois.” Members of Congress are specifically being targeted and lobbyists are bashing their own country, based on falsehoods, to push their agenda.

Based on another post from yesterday, the effect of Mayo (SCOTUS) on large pharmaceutical firms’ drugs has attracted further flirtations, e.g.:

Assessing the latest decisions on § 101 and their implications for branded pharmaceuticals;

Those are often critical drugs whose research and development was actually funded by taxpayers’ money. They just want price hikes, exploiting a monopoly that mostly harms poor countries. Does SCOTUS take such considerations into account? What magnitude do ethical factors have? Should competition be blocked? Should generics be banned?

Josh Landau’s (from the technology-centric CCIA) latest post on the bad approach of the ITC, which overzealously embargoes products when it should not and does not have to. Quoting the outline:

The International Trade Commission’s (ITC) basic function is to protect American industry against unfair foreign competition by prohibiting the importation of unfairly produced trade goods. That includes preventing the importation of goods that infringe a valid U.S. patent through what are called “exclusion orders.”

But that function is limited by the second part of its mission—a requirement that the ITC consider the impact of such protection on the American economy, American consumers, and public health and welfare. If ITC action excluding a product from importation would significantly harm the economy, consumers, or health and welfare, the ITC isn’t supposed to issue an exclusion order.

The ITC’s present practice has resulted in an all-or-nothing approach to remedies; either a product is excluded, or it isn’t. But the ITC has the power to tailor its remedies more narrowly.

As always, when it comes to patent law, embargo should be the very last resort if any resort at all. Embargoes benefit nobody except one monopoly. Recall what Microsoft did to TomTom less than a decade ago.

In summary, not much is changing in the US and that is a good thing. Software patents and trolls generally languish.

Links 26/8/2018: Linux 4.19 RC1, UBports Release of Ubuntu Touch OTA-4

Monday 27th of August 2018 01:44:25 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Kernel Space
    • Happy Birthday, Linux!

      While some would argue that October 5, 1991 is the actual birthday of Linux (that was when prototype code first dropped), today marks the anniversary of when Linus Torvalds first revealed he was working on a modest “hobby” OS that would go on to “revolutionize the world.” To celebrate, OMG! Ubuntu! has rounded up 27 interesting facts about Linux, which includes Steve Jobs offering Linus Torvalds a job in 2000 on the condition he stopped working on Linux (thankfully, he declined).

    • The New & Improved Features Of The Linux 4.19 Kernel

      The Linux 4.19-rc1 kernel is expected to be released today and with that marks the end of feature development on this next kernel version. Here is a look at the new and improved features to be found in Linux 4.19.

      Linux 4.19 has been an interesting cycle and was fairly eventful but some problematic pull requests led Linus Torvalds to calling it a horrible merge window From our original reporting over the past two weeks, highlights of the Linux 4.19 kernel include…

    • Linux 4.19-rc1

      So two weeks have passed, and the merge window for 4.19 is over.

      This was a fairly frustrating merge window, partly because 4.19 looks
      to be a pretty big release (no single reason), and partly just due to
      random noise. We had the L1TF hw vulnerability disclosure early in the
      merge window, which just added the usual frustration due to having
      patches that weren’t public. That just shows just how good all our
      infrastructure for linux-next and various automated testing systems
      have become, in how painful it is when it’s lacking.

      At least we didn’t actually have a lot of problems on that front in
      the mainline kernel, there seemed to be many more pain points in the
      backports.

      We also had a report of a TLB shootdown bug come in during this merge
      window, and while the patches for ended up not being a huge problem,
      TLB invalidation issues is actually one of the things that stresses me
      out. They’re really nasty to debug (thanks to Jann Horn for
      pinpointing this one), and our interfaces to the architecture specific
      routines are subtle and pretty complicated. And messy. I think the
      discussion will result in a few cleanups later, but timing could have
      been so much better for this.

      Oh well. I guess I can partly just blame myself for having delayed
      4.18 by a week, which just made everything happen during that first
      and busiest week of the merge window. Bad luck. Although even the
      second week – when things usually calm down – was also pretty busy
      this time around.

      Anyway, on to the actual changes. And there’ a lot of them. There’s
      just a lot of things going on, and while this isn’t the biggest
      release we’ve had (4.9 still keeps that crown), this does join 4.12
      and 4.15 as one of the bigger kernel releases, at least just judging
      by number of commits in the merge window.

      As usual, there’s way too many patches to list even in shortlog
      format, but appended is my usual “mergelog” of people I merged from
      and a one-liner overview of the merge. There’s actually a couple of
      pull requests that I might still look at after the merge window, but
      that are probably in the “there’s always the next one” pile.

      The “big picture” of the merge window looks pretty normal: just under
      two thirds of the changes are to drivers (gpu and network drivers
      being the bulk – as usual), with the rest being architecture updates
      (all the usual suspects), filesystems, core kernel and networking.
      There’s a fair chunk of documentation and tooling updates too
      (selftests, tracing, perf..).

      Anyway, go forth and test,

      Linus

    • Linus Torvalds Kicks Off Development of Linux 4.19 Kernel, First RC Is Out Now

      Linus Torvalds has officially kicked off the development cycle of the upcoming Linux 4.19 kernel series today by releasing the first Release Candidate (RC).

      It’s been two weeks since the Linux 4.18 kernel series was launched, so the merge window for the next major release, Linux kernel 4.19, is now officially closed as Linus Torvalds announces today the availability of the first Release Candidate (RC) for public testing.

    • Linux 4.19-rc1 Released Following “A Fairly Frustrating Merge Window”

      As expected, Linus Torvalds has closed the merge window for 4.19 and released Linux 4.19-rc1.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Heterogeneous Memory Management Still Being Worked On For Nouveau / Radeon / Intel

        Longtime Red Hat developer Jerome Glisse has published his latest patches concerning the Heterogeneous Memory Management support, a.k.a. HMM.

        Heterogeneous Memory Management was merged in Linux 4.14 as one of the kernel pieces sought after by NVIDIA and other vendors. HMM allows a process address space to be mirrored and system memory to be transparently used by any device process.

      • The Linux DRM Projects Are Plotting Their Transition To Gitlab

        With many of the FreeDesktop.org projects having already transitioned from their CGit and hodgepodge of services over to Gitlab, the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) trees appear to be up next.

        Having already made the move this year to the new FreeDesktop.org Gitlab deployment has been Mesa, the X.Org Server, and many of the smaller repositories. This FreeDesktop Gitlab instance running on Google Compute Engine has been a big improvement for the project compared to their aging bare metal servers, their administration resources stretched thin, and Gitlab offering a modern UI compared to CGit and friends. Longer term, Gitlab should yield them more capabilities too around continuous integration and other modern development features.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Neon Arrives For Pinebook

        KDE developers have announced the release of a dedicated version of KDE Neon for the Pinebook, ARM architecture-based laptops that came out last year with some fanfare due to its tight price: $89.
        Now there is more than one Pinebook model and none costs $89, all are over $100 including shipping, but the invention – mobile hardware for the desktop – is here to stay and if the label was already used at the beginning Linux to introduce them, it is Linux that is now introduced to them and for everything big, with KDE Plasma.

        And we are talking about equipment that assembles components such as 64-bit ARM CPU with quad-core at 1.2 GHz, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of eMMC storage and an 11 or 14-inch TN LCD screen with a resolution of 1366 × 768. With the exception of the processor and the storage, they are specifications of a decade ago, but with which it is possible to offer a low cost device with full functionality. However, nobody thought to put Plasma there, right? Well, they have done it.

      • KDE Picks Up New Screen Layout Switcher Plasmoid, Other Enhancements

        KDE developers remain on their spree of various usability enhancements and polishing. KDE contributor Nate Graham also continues doing a great job summarizing these enhancements on a weekly basis.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 33

        Time for your weekly dose of Usability & Productivity! It’s another big one, and there’s a ton of stuff winding through the review pipeline that didn’t quite make the cut this week.

      • Akademy 2018: I was there! =D

        So, Akademy happened for me this year. And it was AMAZING!

        After like 15 hours traveling from Rio de Janeiro to Vienna, I was able to get to the pre-registration event after Akademy with my dear old friend Adriann de Groot aka [ade] , where I was meeting a lot of new KDE people and a few old ones that I met during my time at Randa Meetings 2016. Valorie received me with a great hug making me feel a lot welcome even with all my tiredness and jet lag. (Brazil is +5 hours for Vienna time)

      • Localization: Translate KDE Dolphin and Preview Translation

        Suppose you want to translate Dolphin File Manager into your language –say, Indonesian– and quickly preview each change. You can do it as long as you know the basic workflow and commands. You will be able to translate the menubar, toolbar, configurations, and more to your language. Here’s a simple guide that is very easy for anyone to try out and have fun.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • 12 Reasons Why To Use Gnome Desktop

        You must (occasionally) be wondering which Desktop Environment is the best for Linux. And while most long-time Linux users have found their preferred desktop based on experience and computing purposes, some of us and including newbies are still stuck with the same question. I have switched to various Linux distros many times and frankly, all the Desktop Environments have their own advantages and disadvantages. Sticking to one of them depends entirely on the perspectives of the user and his preferences.

        However, if you’ve recently just bought a new computer priced at medium range (say an Intel i5 processor with 8GB RAM and equipped with Solid State Drive) and you’re lurking around the Internet searching for a cool Linux distro, so you can get the best Linux experience on your new awesome hardware. Then I recommend trying Linux with GNOME desktop due to its innovative look and ease of use.

      • GParted – Graphical Disk Partition Editor – Releases Version 0.32.0

        GParted is the best graphical disk partition utility for Linux. It is capable of creating, resizing, deleting partitions in Disks, USB drives. Based on libparted, it supports almost all popular file systems.

  • Distributions
    • A Bigger Toolbox | The Roundup #9

      Welcome to The Roundup #9, your bytes of Solus news. In this roundup, we are focusing on the continued modernizing of our software stack, improved resilience, and what is coming up this week!

    • Solus Deploys Flatpak 1.0, Prepares For X.Org Server 1.20, Better Intel GVT Support

      The popular Solus Linux distribution has experienced a busy week of updates but more changes are on the way to this desktop-focused OS.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • GeckoLinux 150 Static Plasma review – Not quite

        GeckoLinux 150 was supposed to be the cure to all openSUSE Leap 15 ailments. It is not. I was expecting flawless results on all fronts, but then there were big issues with multimedia playback and associated performance, visual glitches, imperfect smartphone support, and of course, the graphics driver bomb. This hardly warrants the effort. I also didn’t mention various crashes – the kgreeter crash on logout, every time – but they were there, too. Samba issues, printing issues, and the list goes on. The good things are nice and commendable, but there must be a stable base.

        However, the real dealbreaker is the Nvidia setup. This is supposed to just work. If it works in a dozen other distros on this same box, then it should continue working. And I’m certain this has nothing to do with Nvidia drivers but with how the repo contents were compiled and packaged. Then, no easy rescue, none of that SUSE enterprise-like resilience. Finally, you do gain some, but not enough to justify the experience. I will sample Gecko sometime in the future again, but the bad karma around openSUSE remains. So long.

    • Debian Family
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Carl Chenet: FOSS: passive consumerism kills our community

    TL;DR: Don’t be a passive consumer of FOSS. It’s going to kill the FOSS community or change it in bad ways. Contribute in any way described in this article, even really basic ones, but contribute daily or on a very regular basis.

    I have been a system engineer for more than 10 years now, almost exclusively working with GNU/Linux systems. I’m also deeply involved in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community for a long time and I spend a lot of time on social networks (mostly Twitter and Mastodon these days). And some behaviours always piss me off.

  • #Friendica vs #Hubzilla vs #Mastodon

    I’ve been running a #Friendica node for several years now. Some months ago I also started to run a #Hubzilla hub as well. Some days ago I also installed #Mastodon on a virtual machine, because there was so much hype about Mastodon in the last days due to some changes Twitter made in regards of 3rd party clients.

    All of those social networks do have their own focus:

    Friendica: basically can connect to all other social networks, which is quite nice because there exists historically two different worlds: the Federation (Diaspora, Socialhome) and the Fediverse (GnuSocial, Mastodon, postActiv, Pleroma). Only Friendica and Hubzilla can federate with both: Federation and Fediverse.
    Friendicas look&feel appears sometimes a little bit outdated and old, but it works very well and reliable.

    Hubzilla: is the second player in the field of connecting both federations, but has a different focus. It is more of one-size-fits-all approach. If you need a microblogging site, a wiki, a cloud service, a website, etc. then Hubzilla is the way to go. The look&feel is a little bit more modern, but there are some quirks that appears a little odd to me. A unique feature for Hubzilla seems to be the concept of “nomadic accounts”: you can move to a different hub and take all your data with you. Read more about that in the Hubzilla documentation.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • My 20 years of web

        Next I joined the Mozilla to work on the Firefox platform partnerships. It has been fascinating working with this team, which originated from the Netscape browser in the 1990′s and transformed into an open-source non-profit focusing on the advancement of internet technology in conjunction with their former competitors, Microsoft, Google and Apple.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • 7 emerging open source Big Data projects that will revolutionize your business

      Twenty years ago, the Open Source framework was published, delivering what would be the most significant trend in software development since that time. Whether you want to call it “free software” or “open source”, ultimately, it’s all about making application and system source codes widely available and putting the software under a license that favors user autonomy.

      According to Ovum, open source is already the default option across several big data categories ranging from storage, analytics and applications to machine learning. In the latest Black Duck Software and North Bridge’s survey, 90% of respondents reported they rely on open source “for improved efficiency, innovation and interoperability,” most commonly because of “freedom from vendor lock-in; competitive features and technical capabilities; ability to customize; and overall quality.” There are now thousands of successful open source projects that companies must strategically choose from to stay competitive.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • The Commons Clause will destroy open source

      Personally, I have a harder go of it because very little of my open source software is appealing to the businesses that have the budget to sponsor them. Instead, I rely on the (much smaller and less stable) recurring donations of my individual users. When I started accepting these, I did not think that it was going to work out. But today, I’m making far more money from these donations than I ever thought possible2, and I see an upwards trend which will eventually lead me to being able to work on open source full time. If I were able to add only a few business-level sponsorships to this equation, I think I would easily have already reached my goals.

      There are other options for securing financing for open source, some of which Redis has already been exploring. Selling a hosted and supported version of your service is often a good call. Offering consulting support for your software has also worked for many groups in the past. Some projects succeed with (A)GPL for everyone and BSD for a price. These are all better avenues to explore – making your software proprietary is a tragic alternative that should not be considered.

  • BSD
    • FreeBSD DRM Is Causing A Load Of In-Fighting This Week

      DRM is causing a lot of vibrant discussions this week on the FreeBSD mailing list… And no, it’s not even Digital Rights Management but rather colorful commentary about their Direct Rendering Manager code and plans for FreeBSD 12.

      It began by an announcement made back on 21 August that DRM/DRM2 has been removed from the upcoming FreeBSD 12.0 release. For Direct Rendering Manager kernel graphics driver support moving forward, users should use graphics/drm-legacy-kmod if running really old graphics hardware otherwise one of the drm-stable-kmod / drm-next-kmod / drm-devel-kmod options from FreeBSD Ports.

Leftovers
  • Security
    • About OpenSSH “user enumeration” / CVE-2018-15473

      Regarding CVE-2018-15473: a few people have asked why we just committed
      a fix for this without any secrecy or treating it as a security
      problem. The reason is that I and the other OpenSSH developers don’t
      consider this class of bug a significant vulnerability – it’s a partial
      disclosure of non-sensitive information.

      We have and will continue to fix bugs like this when we are made aware
      of them and when the costs of doing so aren’t too high, but we aren’t
      going to get excited about them enough to apply for CVEs or do security
      releases to fix them. The following explains our reasoning.

    • Weak passwords let a hacker [sic] access internal Sprint staff portal

      Using two sets of weak, easy-to-guess usernames and passwords, a security researcher accessed an internal Sprint staff portal. Because the portal’s log-in page didn’t use two-factor authentication, the researcher — who did not want to be named — navigated to pages that could have allowed access customer account data.

    • Hacker Summer Camp 2018: Wrap-Up

      I meant to write this post much closer to the end of Hacker Summer Camp, but to be honest, I’ve been completely swamped with getting back into the thick of things. However, I kept feeling like things were “unfinished”, so I thought I’d throw together at least a few thoughts from this year.

    • SQL Injection Vulnerabilities in Seagate Personal Cloud Media Server allow Retrieval of Private Data

      The Seagate Media Server is a UPnp / DLNA Network Attached Storage mechanism incorporated into the Seagate Personal Cloud for individual level use. In an advisory on the IoT security bug hunt website Summer of Pwnage, several SQL injection vulnerabilities in the Seagate Media Server were discovered and discussed, risking the retrieval and modification of personal data stored in the database used by the media server.

      The Seagate Personal Cloud is a cloud storage facility that is used to store photos, videos, and other kinds of multimedia in its media server. As personal data is uploaded into this cloud, it is protected with authorization checks and password security, but within its layout, a public folder exists to which unauthorized users have the right to upload data and files.

    • Remote Code Execution Vulnerability in Apache Struts 2.x Resolved in Update

      In an advisory published on the Confluence website maintained by the ASF community, a remote code execution vulnerability in the Apache Struts 2.x was discovered and elaborated upon by Yasser Zamani. The discovery was made by Man Yue Mo of the Semmle Security research team. The vulnerability has since been given the label CVE-2018-11776. It is found to affect the Apache Struts versions 2.3 to 2.3.34 and 2.5 to 2.5.16 with possible remote code execution exploit opportunities.

    • Systemd Will Now Use RdRand Directly If The Kernel Can’t Deliver Entropy [Ed: So systemd will use Intel's notorious back door, the RNG which BSD developers continuously distrust and reject. First Speck in the kernel (4.17) thanks to Google and now this.]

      Systemd will now resort to using Intel’s RdRand hardware random number generator directly if the Linux kernel is unable to provide the init system with sufficient entropy.

      This systemd change stems from the issue of the Linux boot process getting stuck if there’s not enough entropy due to a kernel change to eliminate CVE-2018-1108 over early boot processes potentially having weak random seed data. With systemd’s random-util change, systemd will now use RdRand directly if the kernel can’t provide any randomness, rather than having to block/stall.

    • Google Found A Serious Security Flaw In Fortnite Installer For Android

      Epic Games’ decision to make its popular game Fortnite available on Android through its own website instead of Google Play Store seems to have backfired.

      Google has publicly disclosed an extremely dangerous security flaw in Fortnite’s installer that allows attackers to download anything on an Android phone.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Your government has a secret kill list. Is that OK with you?

      Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American citizen, thinks the government is trying to kill him. And he might be right.

      Kareem’s story, recently chronicled in Rolling Stone, neatly captures the havoc that the war on terror has wreaked on the legal system and the dangers of abandoning legal traditions that have served us well for centuries.

      Kareem resides overseas and is struggling to determine why he is apparently on the government’s secret “kill list,” which targets terror suspects for drone strikes. Kareem finds that objects in his vicinity tend to explode with some frequency, and he has taken the issue to court, arguing that the American government cannot blow him up without due process.

    • Museum of Flight Lecture – Secret CIA Flights from Taiwan Revealed

      On Sept. 1 the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington will present the story of how CIA pilots of the Republic of China Air Force (Taiwan) “Black Bat Squadron” flew a daring nighttime mission to deploy secret surveillance equipment near a Chinese nuclear weapons base in 1969.

    • US Army Brass Warns Against Overuse of Drones, But ‘Pandora’s Box’ Already Open

      A senior US Army official warned Tuesday that drones are “not a panacea” because “drones don’t smell, they don’t feel” and can’t deliver the same battlefield intelligence humans can. However, a leading anti-war activist told Sputnik, don’t expect this to mean drone warfare will be in any way curtailed in the future.

      “There is value to having an unmanned aerial system teamed with a manned system,” Gen. James McConville, Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army, said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 2018 Army Science & Technology Symposium and Showcase in Washington, DC, Tuesday. But, he warned, “it’s not a panacea.”

      [...]

      She noted how Defense Department officials boast that “we’re going to spend a lot of money, this is the future of warfare, we’re going to use these unmanned systems, working with manned and unmanned together, and maybe unmanned and unmanned together.”

      “Congress just approved a 700-plus billion dollar ‘defense’ budget and a lot of money for drone technology, and all the drone manufacturers are now getting richer and richer. And it’s not just the United States — dozens of countries have drones, many countries have armed drones, and it’s just — it’s a Pandora’s box.” And with the US using drones to drop bombs on countries it’s not even technically at war with — Pakistan being one example — how long will it be before this practice spreads?

    • Drone deterrence: Easy to buy, tricky to use legally

      “If you fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire, you could get someone killed,” said the warning.

      FAA and aviation law experts advised federal, state and local agencies that due diligence is needed before deploying anti-drone systems.

      The FAA, which has been testing drone detection systems with airports around the country since 2016, cautioned that federal laws can preclude the use of some systems.

    • The CIA was warned of a potential “Red Dawn” scenario in Alaska

      A 1951 letter to the Central Intelligence Agency from a former spymaster warned of Russian infiltration in North America’s northern territories. A copy of the letter, which postdates the beginning of the joint CIA, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Air Force stay behind program, was sent from the Assistant CIA Director directly to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, with a copy being sent to the leadership of G-2 (Army intelligence). As described by the CIA’s cover letter, “the Soviet threat to Alaska and Canada is discussed in very general terms.” Despite the letter’s “general terms,” its information and warning were considered important enough to send to Hoover in a package marked SECRET, and it remained classified until late 2018 – 67 years after it was written.

    • CIA Front Staffed by Ex-Nazis: US Government Propaganda Agency Rebrands

      The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the little-acknowledged US government body employing thousands of journalist and media professionals, has been rebranded the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

      In a statement, the newly-minted USAGM’s CEO John F. Lansing boasted the organization operated “far beyond traditional broadcast mediums”, such as television and radio — the name change was thus necessary as “the term ‘broadcasting’ does not accurately describe what we do”.

      However, the new moniker arguably doesn’t accurately describe what the organization does either.

    • Bob Marley BOMBSHELL: Reggae star ‘assassinated by CIA’ claim made in deathbed confession

      Reggae legend Bob Marley tragically died aged only 36-years-old, leading music lovers world-wide to grieve.

      The Jamaican icon’s life and career were cut short following a four-year battle with cancer.

      However, startling claims have emerged of a deathbed confession made by an ex-CIA officer, where he admitted to the killing.

      79-year-old Bill Oxley is alleged to have claimed the murder of Marley among 17 other assassinations for the American government between 1974 and 1985, at a time when he said the CIA “was a law unto itself.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • With Case Largely Over, Attorney For Reality Winner Speaks

      Defense attorney Titus Nichols, who was part of the team of attorneys that represented former NSA contractor Reality Winner, contends the Espionage Act makes it very difficult for a person accused of violating the law to defend themselves.

      In an interview with Shadowproof, Nichols also suggested Winner was treated more extraordinarily than other criminal cases. However, generally, he said Winner and the legal defense team were “satisfied with the result” because “the judge accepted the plea deal” and “directed her to be placed” at Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.

      Winner pled guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act when she disclosed an NSA report that alleged Russian hackers targeted United States voter registration systems in the 2016 election.

      Winner was sentenced on August 23 to five years and three months in prison. She was in detention for one year and 83 days prior to the judge accepting the deal. That time served will count toward her sentence, according to Nichols.

    • Why Democracy Needs Solidarity for Julian Assange’s Freedom

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains in solitary confinement inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was granted asylum in 2012 against the threat of extradition to the United States for his publishing activities. In recent months, Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, under pressure from the U.S. began threatening to evict this political refugee.

      In response to this dire situation, people across the political spectrum began to form solidarity through #Unify4J, an online platform to organize a social media movement in support of Assange. Among those include prominent Trump’s supporters. In the midst of Trump administration’s draconian measures on immigrants and empowerment of white supremacist groups, the idea of working with Trump’s key allies triggered reaction among the left. Recently, Classconscious.org, an outlet spearheading global civic action for Assange’s freedom, scrutinized the idea of uniting with ultra right forces that back Trump and urged the movement to draw a line.

      [...]

      Without understanding the essence of this new invention, people’s attitudes toward WikiLeaks swing back and forth. Whether it is capitalism or socialism, Democrats or Republicans, many demand WikiLeaks to demonstrate its allegiance to their political ideology and support their preferred candidate. They conflate the invention with the inventor, becoming obsessed with Assange.

      One publication put him in a category of a leftist, while another turns him into a right wing. People speculate and get overly attached to Assange’s political views. Ultimately, the opinion of this inventor does not and should not matter. In the same way that people don’t have to know who invented electricity to have a light or a combustion engine to drive a car, everyone can benefit from this new journalism and use it to enrich society at large.

      Yet, for those who still feel the need to know, Assange’s thoughts are not shaped by a conventional political dichotomy of left and right. The ideas that conceived WikiLeaks originated from the philosophy of cypherpunks, an electronic mailing list that advocates privacy through the use of strong cryptography.

    • Why Did Reality Winner Do It?

      Reality Winner stood in a county jail in rural Georgia, phone receiver pressed to her ear, staring at a brick wall and racking her brain, trying to remember the minimum sentence for violating Chapter 18, Section 793(e) of the U.S. Criminal Code. She’d signed papers acknowledging the penalty so many times — it was a requirement for anyone who handled classified information — but whatever recess of her mind the details were tucked away in, she was having trouble accessing it.

      The date was June 4th, 2017. Winner was 25 years old, blond, blue-eyed, 5-foot-5, approximately 145 pounds, according to an FBI search warrant executed the day before. She’d spent exactly one night in jail. She didn’t fully recognize it yet, but life as she knew it — her day job as a subcontractor for the National Security Agency, the yoga classes she taught in her spare time, the date she’d missed because of her arrest — was rapidly slipping away from her.

    • Texan Sentenced to Five Years for NSA Leaks on Russian Hacking

      Winner worked as a linguist and translator in Arabic and Farsi with the National Security Administration in Fort Meade, Maryland.

    • NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Sentenced to 63 Months in Prison

      NSA whistleblower Reality Winner was sentenced Thursday to five years and three months in prison—the longest sentence ever imposed in federal court for leaking government information to the media. Twenty-six-year-old Reality Winner is the first person to be sentenced under the Espionage Act since President Trump took office. Reality Winner was arrested by FBI agents at her home in Augusta, Georgia, on June 3, 2017, two days before The Intercept published an exposé revealing Russian military intelligence conducted a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software company just days before the U.S. presidential election last November.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Time to End Cheap Flights

      African cities generally use less electricity than their European equivalents, as people own fewer appliances and have greater need for thrift. Jet engines are essentially the same as turbines used for electricity generation, and the engines on a single jumbo would power a small African city had they generators attached. Remember that next time you fly.

      Worldwide aviation emissions pump slightly more pollution into the atmosphere than the entire United Kingdom economy, and aviation emissions continue relentlessly to increase year after year. Air transport is simply far too cheap for the damage it causes and the resources it consumes. You cannot cause more damage to the Earth’s atmosphere with £30 worth of resources, than by buying a £30 Ryanair ticket to Barcelona. If you spend that £30 on fuel for your diesel car, or on coal and burn it in your garden, you will not come close to the damage caused by your share of emissions on that Ryanair flight.

      The fundamental reason air travel has expanded to be so harmful is the international understanding that tax and duty is not charged on aviation fuel – unlike vehicle, train or maritime fuel. Even citizens of Saudi Arabia or Venezuela no longer can access fuel as cheaply as you do in effect when you fly.

  • Finance
    • Anti-Corruption Commission Investigating Tendai Biti Over $30m Deal From GNU Era

      The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is reported to be investigating former Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti over a transaction which took place during the Government of National Unity (GNU) era. This comes after the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) alleged that Biti had unprocedurally ordered the social authority to release $30 million to Renaissance Bank between 2009 and 2013. Rennaisance is now defunct.

    • Biti probed over $30m Nssa deal

      THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating former Finance Minister Mr Tendai Biti over a $30 million deal between the National Social Security Authority and the now defunct Renaissance Bank.

      This comes at a time Zacc has stepped up the fight against corruption by hiring 30 lawyers, forensic auditors and investigators. The anti-graft body has also opened provincial offices countrywide.

    • If Trump Is Laundering Russian Money, Here’s How It Works

      Shell companies, pseudonyms, shady lawyers, and secrecy: The president’s and his lawyer’s business practices match the classic pattern of suspicious activity.

    • Wage Subsidies Are No Cure for Stagnation

      William A. Galston’s prescription to cure wage stagnation—expanded government wage subsidies—would be worse than the disease (“Wage Stagnation is Everyone’s Problem”, op-ed Aug. 15). Employers will quickly incorporate the expected subsidies into their salary planning activities. Because subsidies won’t change the market price for labor, it is more likely that they will be used to offset current wages as to raise them. What business wouldn’t want the government to pick up part of its labor costs? Once embedded, the subsidies will become a permanent part of the economic landscape, forever misallocating labor to jobs and…

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • This a Freak Show, Not a Democracy (Thanks, Founders)

      If you are like most people I know, you quite reasonably hate Donald Trump. You loathe him for accelerating the climate crisis and the destruction of a livable environment, the biggest issue of our or any time (since nothing else we care about is going to matter on a dead planet). You detest hate him for being a racist, a nativist, a sexist, an arch-authoritarian, a gross and plutocratic oligarch. a record-setting pathological liar, and an agent of what can fairly be called “creeping fascism.”

      These aren’t the reasons that much if not most of the U.S. ruling-class disapproves of Trump. Let’s be candid. The lion’s share of the nation’s financial and corporate masters have long been comfortable with: dog-whistling racism and nativism as a Machiavellian political tool; the relentless oligarchic smiting of democracy; the reckless plunder and pollution of the natural and social commons; the upward concentration wealth and money through various means including giant bailouts (as under Bush43 and Obama44) and big tax cuts for the rich (as under Bush 43 and Trump45 last year).

    • Trump Fires Back at His Attorney General for Not Investigating Corruption on ‘Other Side’

      President Donald Trump sent multiple tweets Friday morning, attacking Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not investigating corruption on the “other side.”

      “‘Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.’ Jeff, this is GREAT, what everyone wants, so look into all of the corruption on the “other side” including deleted Emails, Comey lies & leaks, Mueller conflicts, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr……” Trump tweeted. The quote Trump referenced was from a statement Sessions released Thursday, where the attorney general defended his tenure at the Justice Department. Sessions released the statement after the president attacked him during a “Fox and Friends” interview, which aired earlier Thursday morning.

    • Trump responds to Sessions speaking out: “Come on Jeff”

      President Trump publicly pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “look into all of the corruption” of his adversaries Friday morning, after Sessions issued a rare statement Thursday saying the Justice Department will “not be improperly influenced by political considerations.” Sessions’ statement Thursday appeared to be a direct response to Mr. Trump’s claim on Fox & Friends Thursday that Sessions “never took control” of the DOJ.

      Mr. Trump has long pressured his attorney general — in a very public way on Twitter — to investigate Hillary Clinton and current and former top Justice Department officials he dislikes. But those urgings have intensified in recent days, as many in the president’s former circle face charges. On Tuesday, former longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law and claimed the president directed him to take the actions to do so. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts related to bank fraud.

    • ‘Come on Jeff, you can do it!’: Trump calls on Sessions and the DOJ to investigate ‘the other side’ in mocking tweets

      President Donald Trump has returned fire in a dispute with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, calling on him to examine what Trump described as “all of the corruption” of Trump’s critics and those investigating him, including Hillary Clinton, James Comey, and the special counsel Robert Mueller.

    • Trump in war of words with Attorney General Jeff Sessions

      US President Donald Trump has continued to engage in a public spat with his own top law enforcer, Jeff Sessions, accusing him of being “unfair” for applying “double standard” in prosecuting suspects.

      In a Friday morning rant on social media, Trump complained that a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor is getting 63 months in jail over “classified information”.

      “Gee, this is ‘small potatoes compared to what Hillary Clinton did! So unfair Jeff, Double Standard,” the US president wrote, naming his Democrat opponent in the 2016 presidential election.

    • A Short Article Not Mentioning Alex Salmond

      An Ambassador is evidently not as important as a Scottish First Minister, but there is one interesting similarity. You get to live in a palatial Residence at public expense, and you host numerous social events there, from intimate lunches to grand dinners to receptions for many hundred people. Indeed as a diplomat you do this throughout your career – as an Ambassador, Deputy High Commissioner, First Secretary and even Second Secretary I hosted many scores of such events in my home, and in every case was supported by office and domestic staff who worked under me, both British and local.

    • The Anti-President

      The U.S. is now a endless machine for war profiteering and endless war itself. Simultaneously a hyper Imperialist machine directed toward global hegemony. Domestically it is a McCarthyesque empire of propaganda and censorship and mass incarceration.

      [...]

      Many of these bases are as large as small cities. Camp Liberty in Iraq has concrete sidewalks, traffic signals, spas and cinemas as well as coffee shops and Burger Kings. Generals and Admirals employ private jets, and siphon off taxpayer money for vacations at luxury resorts and shopping trips for their wives and family. The bookeeping has been described as functionally fictive. The vast amounts of monies misplaced or unaccounted for is in the trillion of dollars. Everything….from shower heads to gym equipment, to electrical cable is from private firms that usually have spent small fortunes lobbying Pentagon officials or even state department higher ups to *win* these contracts. So ponder that a moment: TRILLIONS of dollars. When anyone asks why *we* are still in Afghanistan after 17 years, this is but one of the answers.

    • Senator John McCain, Republican War Hawk, Dead at 81

      Meanwhile, media critics Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson offered this pre-spin news brief—titled “Don’t Let the Media Erase McCain’s Far Right Legacy“—as a warning against the inevitable narrative that will dominate the coming days in which efforts to venerate the lawmaker will steadfastly ignore the sizable and documented damage his political career left in his wake:

    • A Brief History of Miami’s CIA Ties and Propaganda Efforts

      Ex-Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado now runs the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting, a federal agency that creates pro-American “news” and blasts it in the vague direction of Cuba. It would be perhaps inaccurate to say the OCB’s stations — Radio Martí, TV Martí, and Martí Noticias — “broadcast” in Cuba, because even the U.S. government admits the Cuban government is easily able to jam the signals.

      Critics argue that as bad as the Castros are, the federal government’s ongoing, near-slapstick attempts to sabotage the administration have done little but ratchet up the tension between the two nations for no real reasons other than spite and force of habit.

    • Danny Boyle quit Bond in dispute over film’s Russian villain

      Rumours that the film’s script was the source of the disagreement have been reported, with producers alleged to be unhappy with the decision to focus on contemporary political tensions with Russia and a “modern-day Cold War”.

      However one industry source told the Telegraph the split was due to a fall out over whether to cast Tomasz Kot as the lead villain. The 41-year-old Polish actor stars in Cold War, a love story set in 1950s Europe, and was described as a “left-field” decision for a Bond enemy.

      “Craig has a big say in all the casting decisions. None of the Bond girls have been chosen without his say so,” the source said.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Inside Tencent’s Struggle to Bring World’s Hottest Game to China
    • Fortnite, Tencent and the fate of world’s biggest game market
    • Tencent needs help from the world’s hottest game
    • Gardenscapes, iDreamSky Technology never expected to tangle with Chinese regulators
    • Tencent in Chinese battle royale over videogame censorship
    • 15 Cities Across U.S. to Hold Banned Together Censorship Concerts During Banned Books Week

      Theatre artists in 15 cities across the U.S. will unite during Banned Books Week (September 23–29) for Banned Together 2018, a series of “censorship cabarets” featuring material from plays and musicals that have been censored or challenged on American stages.

      Organized by the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, the non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of writers and other theatre artists facing censorship, the concert series will kick off September 23 in Atlanta, continuing throughout the week with performances taking place in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and more.

    • Letter: Writer concerned about social media censorship

      Social media companies, being privately owned businesses, can establish their own terms of use and enforce them as they see fit. The problem arises when they wield the massive platform they’ve created to push or silence a certain narrative. Many people rely solely on social media for their news, whether it be from Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, etc.. All of these outlets have displayed a tangible bias against conservative viewpoints. Reddit “curates” their front page content, showing favor towards liberal articles. Twitter allegedly “shadowbans” conservative accounts. Facebook filters their news, and is now banning conservative accounts.

    • Has censorship gone too far?

      In 2002 , CNN reported fake news that there were “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. This was part of former President George W. Bush’s narrative to rally public support for the Iraq War. To Facebook, Jones may have reported a false and offensive story, but CNN’s false reporting helped push Americans into an unnecessary and ungodly war, which is considerably worse than any consequence Jones may have fostered.

    • Supreme Court decisions could curb campus censorship

      Recent First Amendment rulings by the Supreme Court could force courts and university administrators to take a closer look at controversial practices that have marginalized certain political views – often conservative ones – on campus.

    • Tech Titans Made Serious Mistakes, and More Censorship Won’t Right the Ship

      t seems like each week brings yet another example of strange and amateurish Facebook censorship. Last Friday morning, the immensely popular PragerU platform tweeted that Facebook had blocked access to its videos. PragerU screen-capped the proof. By the evening, Facebook reported that it had “mistakenly” removed the videos and was restoring access.

      Then, yesterday, journalist and bestselling author Salena Zito reported that Facebook seemed to be censoring a story she wrote for the New York Post detailing why many Trump supporters won’t be shaken by the Paul Manafort conviction or the Michael Cohen plea deal. Some of her readers reported that it was being marked as “spam.” Others told her that Facebook was reporting that the article “did not follow” its “Community Standards.”

    • Facebook escalates censorship of left-wing, anti-war organizations

      One year ago this week, the World Socialist Web Site published an open letter to search monopoly Google demanding that it end its censorship of the internet.

      The letter documented that a change in Google’s search algorithms that the company claimed was aimed at promoting “authoritative” news sources had led to a substantial decline in search traffic to left-wing, socialist and anti-war sites. Google, the letter from WSWS International Editorial Board Chairperson David North stated, was “engaged in political censorship of the Internet.”

      One year later, it is clear that the allegations against Google were both correct and extremely prescient. The measures taken by Google initiated a sweeping system of corporate-state censorship adopted by all the US technology monopolies, including Facebook and Twitter. A campaign that began under the pretext of combatting “Russian meddling” and “fake news” is ever more openly targeting left-wing views.

      The latest and most extreme attack on democratic rights came Tuesday, when Facebook announced that it has removed hundreds of user accounts and pages, many opposing the crimes of the American, Saudi, and Israeli governments in the Middle East, claiming they were the result of “influence campaigns” by Iran and Russia.

    • Wickr Adds New Censorship Circumvention Feature to its Encrypted App

      Secure Open Access addresses void created by Google, Amazon decision to disallow domain fronting, company says.

      Wickr has added a new Secure Open Access capability to its instant messaging app, which the company says enables encrypted communications that is far more resilient to Internet traffic restrictions and censorship attempts than typical domain-fronting approaches.

      The new feature is based on the open source Psiphon Internet censorship circumvention tool developed by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab for users of Windows and mobile devices. It uses domain fronting as just one of multiple techniques, including SSH and VPN technology, for directing encrypted traffic around blocking attempts.

    • Traveling to China for work? Punch through the Great Firewall and securely connect with your home office

      “Use Signal, use Tor” remains the gold standard for securing personal communication, but they are not a good fit for enterprise deployments where corporations want to use mobile device management (MDM) software to provision thousands of employee devices. A new partnership between secure messaging service Wickr and censorship circumvention tool Psiphon proposes that enterprises instead “use Wickr, use Psiphon.”

    • Wickr has a new plan for dodging internet blocks

      Wickr’s latest solution is a partnership with the circumvention service Psiphon, which will be available to enterprise users starting today and rolling out to free users in the weeks to come. Similar to a VPN, Psiphon will disguise Wickr traffic through proxies and other routing protocols designed to make the traffic hard to spot and even harder to block.

    • After Google and Amazon Drop Anti-Censorship Support, Wickr Steps In

      On Thursday, Wickr announced that paying, and soon free, users will be able to route their Wickr traffic through a network used to circumvent internet censorship, which could be useful for users in Iran, Russia, or perhaps China.

    • Wickr teams up with Psiphon to ensure your packets arrive safely no matter where you are

      Encrypted collaboration app Wickr has added a feather to its cap with a partnership with Psiphon, provider of smart VPN tools. Wickr will use Psiphon’s tech to guarantee your packets get where they need to go regardless of whether you’re at home, at a cafe with bad Wi-Fi or at a cafe with bad Wi-Fi in China.

      The idea is that the user shouldn’t have to be auditing their own connection to be sure their apps will work properly. That can be a matter of safety, such as a poorly secured access point; connectivity, such as one where certain ports or apps are inoperable; or censorship, like requesting data from a service banned in the country you’re visiting.

    • Wickr may have a workaround for Russia’s crackdown on encrypted chat

      Encrypted chat apps aim to keep you communicating securely, but they have a problem: Some governments want to block them from operating entirely. What’s more, some parts of their services can be easily blocked on a local level by anyone with a Wi-Fi network.

      To keep conversations flowing, encrypted communications app maker Wickr said Thursday it’s implementing new tools that make its app of the same name immune to blocking attempts. The company will partner with software maker Psiphon, the brainchild of anticensorship researchers at the Citizen Lab, to roll out Wickr Open Access.

    • Chat App Wickr Seeks to Evade State-Level Censorship

      Encrypted chat apps are being heavily targeted by government organizations, and one of the most popular victims is Telegram. Wickr seeks to evade censorship laws and any state’s ability to block traffic to and from its servers at a national level. Most of the government organizations order ISPs to block traffic from the official servers of the apps. However, if the data is untraceable, it becomes highly difficult to identify the traffic and block it.

      Wickr has partnered with Psiphon to include anti-blocking mechanisms. The added anti-blocking features will be available to only enterprise users for now, and it will be made available to free users in the coming weeks. While the new anti-blocking technology made by Psiphon offers features similar to that of a VPN, traffic is routed through proxies and complex routing protocols to make the data almost untraceable.

    • Wickr announces a firewall-circumventing tool to help beat national censorship regimes

      Wickr, a private, secure messaging company, has teamed up with Psiphon (previously), a spinout from Citizen Lab (previously) to allow its users to communicate even when they are behind national firewalls.

      Messaging platforms had long used “domain fronting” — whereby secure messaging traffic was undetectably mixed in with traffic from Amazon, Google and others — to beat national firewalls, but these were largely discontinued by the major platforms in the face of threats of censorship by authoritarian governments.

      Wickr proposes using Psiphon (which uses a variety of techniques to circumvent censorship) as an alternative to domain fronting, initially rolling it out for paid business users, with a promise to extend the feature to all users in the near future.

    • Activist fights social media censorship

      Youtube has removed one of her videos, published in 2012, and given her video channel a “strike.”

      After three “strikes,” she could be shut down for good.

      “Basically it will mean it will silence your voice on the Internet for anybody to see your video. That’s a problem,” she warns.

    • Twitter Beats Censorship Lawsuit by Banned White Nationalist

      Taylor is the founder of the New Century Foundation, which “purports to show the inferiority of blacks to whites,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Taylor describes himself as a “racialist” who believes in “racial realism.” Taylor alleged that Twitter won’t allow him and his publication “to respectfully share their views on its open platform.”

    • Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship, by Nadine Strossen

      I recently accompanied my son to his first university open day. He wants to study politics and was inspired by the lecturers he met. Unfortunately, just before we left, he picked up a copy of the student newspaper and his excitement turned to disappointment. A controversial YouTube star he’s interested in had been invited to speak on campus, but the debate had been cancelled.

      Hours before the event was to take place, the students’ union decreed that a neutral chairperson was needed, and no one suitable could be found. There had been no recourse to the law and no charges of hate speech. No doubt those convinced that campus free speech controversies are fabricated will shrug and say this is bureaucracy, not censorship. But a speaker some wanted to hear, a debate that had been months in the planning, was halted.

      In Hate, Nadine Strossen brings wisdom garnered from decades at the forefront of arguing for civil liberties to bear on the polarised and often inflammatory discussion of free speech. Her central contention, that hate speech laws are “at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive”, is well made. She argues that hate speech should be met by more speech, “counterspeech”, rather than legal restrictions.

    • ACLU Cautions Against Social Media Censorship

      The ACLU is seemingly concerned about social media censorship.

      In his conversation with HuffPost, the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, Ben Wizner, drew parallels to how the situation might play out if the government were in charge of determining what is considered hate speech.

    • Prager Seeks To Revive ‘Censorship’ Suit Against Google
    • Censorship is coming
    • China Seeks to Block Access to 124 Foreign Crypto Exchanges
    • China Tightens the Noose on 124 Offshore Cryptocurrency Exchanges
    • China’s Social Media Giant WeChat Blocks a Number of Crypto Media Accounts, Sources Say
    • China to block more than 120 offshore cryptocurrency exchanges as crackdown escalates
    • China’s Bitcoin Censorship Continues as WeChat Is Targeted by Regulators

      China has become a very hostile nation for cryptocurrency. It is a very worrisome trend, but it appears there is nothing that can be done about it. In another crackdown, the country is now targeting WeChat content pertaining to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

    • Social media’s trickery with censorship
    • Trump whines about fake social media ‘censorship’ again
    • Counter tech’s content censorship with transparency, rights, says David Greene
    • Twitter CEO to testify before House panel

      Dorsey had been reluctant to commit to an appearance, even amid reports that Congress was preparing to subpoena him.

    • Google shuts down YouTube channels in expansion of state-directed online censorship
    • IRIB slams closure of its social media accounts as ‘clear censorship’

      The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has condemned a coordinated move to block its channels on social media platforms, describing it as a “clear example of censorship” aimed at preventing the dissemination of truth and alternative viewpoints online.

      In a Saturday statement, the IRIB World Service said “stifling independent media” amounts to a “political scandal” taking place in the age of communications and freedom of press.

      On Thursday, Google removed 39 YouTube channels linked to the Iranian state broadcaster. Google terminated those accounts, along with six blogs on its Blogger service and 13 Google+ accounts linked with Iran. The move came after Twitter and Facebook also blocked hundreds of accounts on suspicion of possible ties with Iran.

    • Iran Condemns Social Media Censorship

      Tehran, Aug 25 (Prensa Latina) Iran condemned today the international censorship of its media on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus.

      The foreign service of the Radio and Television of the Islamic Republic of Iran issued a statement, which expresses its strongest protest against the blockade of several accounts in the country in internet.

    • What We Now Know About Iran’s Global Propaganda Campaign

      They set up phony news sites with stories ripped from other sources, backing up their state-sponsored agenda. They stole photos for their social media profiles and made up names to catfish unsuspecting victims. They formed an incestuous web of promotion across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Reddit, and other platforms. They seemed to have a thing for Bernie Sanders. And then they got caught.

      Yes, that’s the story of the infamous Russian trolls who spread divisive content throughout the 2016 presidential campaign season. But it just as easily applies to the recently discovered propaganda network that Facebook and Google have linked to Iran’s state media corporation, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. They and Twitter have since deleted hundreds of accounts between them, thanks to a tipoff from vigilant researchers at the cybersecurity firm FireEye.

    • Big Tech Corporations Are Now Censoring Iranian Social Media Accounts – A Banned Student Journalist Speaks out

      Big Tech corporations in the United States have tightened their social media dragnet, censoring accounts that criticize the US government and its allies.

      In a Russiagate hysteria promoted incessantly by the US government and corporate media, social media accounts that were identified by shady private cybersecurity firms as supposed “Russian trolls” were targeted first. Then pro-Venezuelan government websites like the state-funded media outlet TeleSUR English and even the independent Venezuela Analysis had their Facebook pages temporarily removed.

      Now Silicon Valley has set its sights on Iran. While the Donald Trump administration is banning Iranians from traveling and imposing suffocating sanctions on their country, Big Tech is banning them from using social media.

    • Russia election meddling fears expand to other countries

      Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election may be motivating other foreign adversaries to use social media to try to disrupt U.S. elections going forward, security experts warn.

      Experts point to Facebook’s announcement this week that it shuttered hundreds of pages tied to foreign governments, with many of the pages — as well as accounts shut down on Twitter and Google — linked to the government of Iran.

      The development boosted the Trump administration’s claim that other foreign groups, not just Russians, are intent to sow discord while putting a fresh spotlight on the need to ward against election meddling coming from any country.

    • Google removes 58 accounts tied to Iran’s disinformation campaign from YouTube and other sites in crackdown

      Google is the latest Silicon Valley giant to find new evidence of misinformation campaigns by Iranian accounts.

      The search giant said in a blog post Thursday that it removed 58 accounts with ties to Iran from YouTube and other sites.

    • FireEye is tech firms’ weapon against disinformation, staffed with ‘the Navy SEALs of cyber security’
    • These are the liberal memes Iran used to target Americans on Facebook
    • These are the liberal memes Iran used to target Americans on Facebook

      They were the kind of social media posts that regularly get shared in liberal circles, but they were coming from sham accounts originating in Iran, the most recently uncovered attempt by a foreign adversary to sway U.S. voters.

      One meme on Facebook from a page called the Progressive Front showed former First Lady Michelle Obama holding a doctored sign that read “An Immigrant Took My Job,” a swipe at Slovenia-born Melania Trump. A tweet from the account Liberty Front Press urged people to watch a video of a parent and child reunited after being separated at the border “and be reminded of why we fight every day against the monstrous and evil policies of the Trump regime.” YouTube channels featured videos like “Everything You Need to Know about Impeachment.”

    • Here comes ‘antidisinformation as a service’

      Facebook said that 652 Facebook pages and groups run by the Iranian and Russian governments were deleted because they were found to be “misleading,” by which it meant that the pages and social profiles presented themselves as something other than what they really were.

    • Google Deletes 39 YouTube Channels Pushing Iran’s Anti-Israel, Pro-Palestinian, Pro-Nuclear Deal Propaganda
    • Fake pro-independence Facebook page originated in Iran

      A LEADING member of the Iranian opposition in exile has said Iran’s clerical regime has devoted “significant” funds and personnel to social media over the years, with the aim of spreading disinformation in pursuit of its own aims.

    • It turns out Russia isn’t the only country turning Facebook and Twitter against us
    • Google Joins Facebook, Twitter In Deleting Iran-Linked Accounts

      Accounts linked to an Iranian “influence operation” are being removed from major social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter announced their efforts to prevent the operation from levering their platforms earlier this week, and now Google has done the same for several of its sites.

      The number of accounts Google removed from YouTube, Blogger and Google+ pales in comparison to the number of accounts Facebook and Twitter removed. Google cut some 39 channels with “13,466 total U.S. views on relevant videos” from YouTube, removed six blogs from Blogger and deleted 13 accounts on the Google+ social network.

    • Google takes down content it says is related to Iranian misinformation campaign

      The YouTube channels generated few views, according to Google, only 13,466 U.S. views in all. Walker said there was not much he could say at the moment because Google was working with law enforcement. He did say that the operation has been ongoing since 2017.

    • Google removes dozens of YouTube channels linked to ‘influence operation’
    • The cybersecurity firm that helped Big Tech find election attacks

      FireEye, a California-based cybersecurity firm, has been credited twice just this week with helping two of the biggest tech companies uncover midterm election threats — and got a stock bump as a result.

    • Google terminates ‘Iran, Russia-linked’ accounts

      “Actors engaged in this type of influence operation violate our policies, and we swiftly remove such content from our services and terminate these actors’ accounts,” he added.

      “In addition to the intelligence we received from FireEye, our teams have investigated a broader range of suspicious actors linked to Iran who have engaged in this effort,” the company said, referring to an alleged cybersecurity firm, on whose tip it had started the crackdown.

    • Google removes several blogs, YouTube accounts linked to Iran

      Google has also removed 39 YouTube channels and six blogs on Blogger and 13 Google+ accounts.

    • It turns out Russia isn’t the only country using Twitter, Facebook against us
    • Not just Russians: Google follows Facebook to remove Iranian accounts
    • College of Charleston student group sues, alleging censorship and discrimination

      A group of students have filed a federal lawsuit against the College of Charleston for allegedly violating their right to free speech.

      The lawsuit, filed by South Carolina Politics Club and members Jeremy Turner and Adam Gainey, alleges the College of Charleston repeatedly refused to recognize the group — which describes itself as “student-led” and “non-partisan” — as an official, registered student organization. Without that designation, the group is unable to reserve space, invite speakers or access school funds, according to the complaint, filed Tuesday.

      A spokesman for the College of Charleston declined to comment, as the college does not comment on pending litigation.

      The college denied the South Carolina Politics Club’s application because it is too similar to other, non-partisan, political student organizations, according to the complaint. When the club appealed the decision, the university told members in order to become a recognized group, it would have to either change its views or assimilate into another, existing group at the College of Charleston, according to the complaint.

    • Prosper student journalists win battle with principal against censorship of school newspaper
    • Facebook Censorship Strikes Again

      My guess is that the post was deleted by a Facebook employee who applied a simple standard: the post wasn’t critical of President Trump. Facebook can’t defend that standard, of course, so when Salena persisted, it relented. Again, without explanation or apology.

    • Censorship: Double standard
    • Weekly Mail drew a line on censorship

      The tactic for which The Weekly Mail is most famous was the use of black lines as a form of subversive self-censorship. It consisted of publishing an article that contained material that violated the censorship restrictions and then placing black lines over the “illegal” words, phrases, sentences or paragraphs. This tactic was developed during a particularly stressful evening the night before the newspaper was to be distributed.

      The minister of information declared that the first edition of The Weekly Mail to be published under the new emergency regulations contained subversive material and ordered police to confiscate all copies of the newspaper from newsstands across the country. It was a devastating blow to the paper and revealed the lengths to which the government would go.

    • Why Social Media Shouldn’t Censor Hate Speech

      Nadine Strossen, the former president of the ACLU, argues that censorship does more harm than good—especially when it comes to social media platforms. In an interview filmed at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival in June, Strossen explains that hate speech is not a recognized legal concept in the United States. “That said,” she continues, “speech that conveys a hateful message—along with speech that conveys any message—may, in a particular context, be punished if it directly causes specific, imminent, serious harm.” Strossen goes on to demarcate the difference between free speech and hate speech. Ultimately, she makes a case for leaving the conversation about hate speech to citizens rather than government entities or social media platforms.

    • Imran Khan Government Lifts Political Censorship In State-Run Media

      Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister, Imran Khan, commenced his work as the PM and as one of the first and welcome move, he ended the political censorship on the state run radio and television. Henceforth, Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan will be allowed to air shows without any political interference or discrimination.

    • Lifting of censorship on state media step towards press freedom: IPI

      The Intern­ational Press Institute (IPI) — a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists — has welcomed the decision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift censorship on the state-run media.

      In a press statement released on Thursday, IPI executive director Barbara Trionfi said: “The annou­ncement by the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan that state media will be allowed editorial independence appears to be an important step towards restoring respect for press freedom in Pakistan.”

    • Democratizing Pakistan:Prime Minister Imran Khan Lifts Censorship of State-run Media

      In what seems like an attempt to “democratize” Pakistan, the main agenda of the recently held Pakistan Elections, the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan has lifted the censorship of state-run media outlets Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan.

      Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry announced that the Imran Khan-led PTI government has lifted all censorship that existed on the state-run media houses.

    • Facebook’s Ex-Security Chief Warns: U.S. Isn’t Ready for Midterm Elections
    • Google blocks accounts in ‘influence operation’ linked to Iran
    • Google Deletes Accounts With Ties to Iran on YouTube, Other Sites

      Google announced Thursday that it deleted 58 accounts with ties to Iran on its video platform YouTube and its other sites, the latest sign that foreign agents from around the world increasingly seek to spread disinformation on a broad array of popular websites.

      The new removals targeted 39 channels on YouTube, which had more than 13,000 views in the United States, as well as 13 accounts on the social networking site Google Plus and six accounts on Blogger, its blogging platform, the company said. Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, said in a blog post that each of the accounts had ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, which is tied to Iran’s ayatollah, and that they “disguised their connection to this effort.”

      Google’s announcement comes days after Facebook suspended hundreds of accounts on its site and photo-sharing app, Instagram, that originated in Iran as well as Russia, and Twitter made a similar move. At the time, YouTube confirmed it had removed one account, called Liberty Front Press, which appeared to have connections to Iranian state media.

    • Following Facebook and Twitter, Google Targets Iranian Influence Operation

      The news comes as President Trump tweets opposition to take-down efforts by the tech giants.

      In the wake of influence-campaign takedowns by Facebook and Twitter, Google has issued a report detailing its own efforts to root out foreign influence operatives allegedly tied to an Iranian state-run media broadcaster.

    • Google Cites CIA-Backed Firm in Ban of Allegedly Iran-Backed Accounts

      Google followed in the footsteps of fellow tech giants Twitter and Facebook by blacklisting accounts a CIA-backed cybersecurity firm claims with “moderate confidence” are linked to Iran’s government.

      Google banned 58 accounts allegedly linked to Iran from its platforms on Thursday after “working closely with FireEye,” a cybersecurity firm bankrolled by the Central Intelligence Agency.

    • Google deletes 58 accounts operated by Iran

      “In recent months, we’ve detected and blocked attempts by state-sponsored actors in various countries to target political campaigns, journalists, activists, and academics located around the world,” he added.

      Google issued a statement saying, “In addition to the intelligence we received from FireEye, a leading cybersecurity group, our teams have investigated a broader range of suspicious actors linked to Iran who have engaged in this effort.

      “We’ve updated US lawmakers and law enforcement about the results of our investigation, including its relation to political content in the United States,” the statement continued.

      “Our investigations on these topics are ongoing and we will continue to share our findings with law enforcement and other relevant government entities in the US and elsewhere, as well as with others in the industry.”

    • Letter: Social media outlets practice censorship

      I read with alarm a recent article by Doug Wead on The Federalist website. It described how he has been shadow banned on Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Wikipedia defines “shadow banning” as “the act of blocking a user or their content from an online community such that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned.”

      Wead is not a member of the Ku Klux Klan or a neo-Nazi. He does not promote hate speech. Wead is a conservative commentator. He has taken positions supportive of President Donald Trump, and for that he has been punished by these social media platforms.

      Free speech is a core value of this nation. So, why do these platforms think they have the right to silence voices that are contrary to the liberal narrative? Is it because they are not so confident in their arguments?

    • Overseas China scholars face self-censorship dilemma

      As China combines internal censorship and a major crackdown in its Xinjiang region, with aggressive verbal attacks and informal pressure on overseas academics, the self-censorship dilemma is becoming acute for overseas China scholars who comment China’s human rights, Tibet, Taiwan independence and other sensitive topics.

      Self-censorship is rife and some who previously spoke out on China matters have gone silent fearing access to the country, on which much of their research depends, could be curbed if they irritate the Chinese authorities.

      “There is a constant reminder with certain topics that this or that could get you into trouble with Beijing. It influences graduate topics and choices for academics and even their behaviour on social media. There is a very widespread concern about this,” says Kevin Carrico, a lecturer in Chinese studies at Macquarie University, Sydney.

    • Uni bosses deny censorship
    • AUT student editor fears censorship, despite university denying claims

      An Auckland student newspaper fears university bosses censored them during a busy open day by hiding magazines critical of campus mental health services.

      Debate magazine editor Julie Cleaver alleged “stifling freedom of speech” after magazine stands were moved from their usual prominent places inside AUT’s main building today.

      But uni officials denied censorship, saying the magazine stands were only temporarily moved during the AUT Live open day.

      “Magazine stands in the main building (WG) were not in their usual locations, but this was an issue of clearance rather than censorship,” a spokeswoman said.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Who needs democracy when you have data?

      In 1955, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov published a short story about an experiment in “electronic democracy,” in which a single citizen, selected to represent an entire population, responded to questions generated by a computer named Multivac. The machine took this data and calculated the results of an election that therefore never needed to happen. Asimov’s story was set in Bloomington, Indiana, but today an approximation of Multivac is being built in China.

      For any authoritarian regime, “there is a basic problem for the center of figuring out what’s going on at lower levels and across society,” says Deborah Seligsohn, a political scientist and China expert at Villanova University in Philadelphia. How do you effectively govern a country that’s home to one in five people on the planet, with an increasingly complex economy and society, if you don’t allow public debate, civil activism, and electoral feedback? How do you gather enough information to actually make decisions? And how does a government that doesn’t invite its citizens to participate still engender trust and bend public behavior without putting police on every doorstep?

      Hu Jintao, China’s leader from 2002 to 2012, had attempted to solve these problems by permitting a modest democratic thaw, allowing avenues for grievances to reach the ruling class. His successor, Xi Jinping, has reversed that trend. Instead, his strategy for understanding and responding to what is going on in a nation of 1.4 billion relies on a combination of surveillance, AI, and big data to monitor people’s lives and behavior in minute detail.

    • Before the CIA, There Was the “Cloak and Dagger Group of Snoopers”

      “First, CIG was literally nothing more than an interdepartmental committee subsisting on handouts of money, people, and facilities from three departments which — capriciously or otherwise — could withdraw their sustaining support at any moment,” a CIA history says. “Also, while CIG could enumerate the many functions assigned to it, the embarrassing truth was that it lacked the power to carry them out.”

      The CIG was also beset by bureaucratic jockeying as the senior military officials, diplomats and former OSS officers all fought for influence in the new national security order. “Wild” Bill Donovan, founder of the OSS, once said the CIG was “a good debating society but a poor administering instrument.”

      Still, American leaders understood the need for a peacetime espionage agency and CIG lived on 20 months before the National Security Act took effect in September 1947, transforming the CIG into the CIA. For the next 70 years that agency would grow into the global spying, drone striking organization it is today.

    • NSA Taken to Court Over Warrant-Free Surveillance

      The ACLU announced this week that the NSA’s PRISM program, revealed by national security whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, will be reviewed in court. The PRISM program allows the NSA, as well as other U.S. intelligence agencies, to access U.S. citizens’ international emails, internet calls and chats without a warrant.

    • Beyond the GDPR: here comes the EU’s ePrivacy regulation – but not yet

      The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most important – and controversial – privacy law passed in recent years. Despite its origin in the EU, its reach is truly global, since it affects anyone storing the personal data of EU citizens, no matter where the organization is located. In part because of a flurry of annoying pop-ups asking visitors to sites to agree to new terms and conditions, most people know about the GDPR by now. But few have heard of its sibling, the EU’s proposed ePrivacy Regulation, which in many respects will be even more far-reaching than the GDPR.

      Where the GDPR protects personal data when it is gathered and stored, the ePrivacy Regulation protects personal data when it is transmitted. Traditional telecoms companies are already subject to laws in this area; the ePrivacy Regulation aims to extend that to the new generation of online services that transmit personal data over the Internet. In particular, the proposed law seeks to regulate how metadata is gathered and used, and to limit how people are tracked online, for example using cookies.

    • You Should Delete Facebook’s VPN App

      [...] Onavo is a virtual private network app that lets you access the internet on your phone through a private Facebook server. While that makes it harder for third parties or hackers to spy on your phone activity, it gives Facebook full access to it. [...]

    • Phone Numbers Were Never Meant as ID. Now We’re All At Risk
    • CIA-Backed Firm Tipped Off Facebook to ‘Inauthentic’ Accounts

      Facebook removed 652 pages, groups and accounts on Tuesday for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” after it was tipped off to the accounts by FireEye, a cybersecurity firm bankrolled by the Central Intelligence Agency.

      Unlike Facebook’s last round of bans, the company has a attributed the operators of the newly removed accounts to the usual scapegoats: Russia and Iran.

      “These were distinct campaigns, and we have not identified any links or coordination between them,” the company said.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Rebel

      You have been told that it is dangerous to trust yourself to move through life ungoverned by rules and authority and social pressures, but it isn’t dangerous. Rules and authority and social pressures are what got us to this point, and now we’re staring into the abyss of extinction because of them. Rules and authority and social pressures are what’s dangerous. Living authentically is safety. Once you move past all the voices telling you you mustn’t and you shouldn’t, you will find that your own inner truth is so much wiser and healthier than society’s dead ideas about how we all ought to live.

      Trust yourself to be bravely and defiantly true to the truth, clear-eyed rebel. I trust you. Life trusts you. You can trust yourself. Climb up over that slaughterhouse rail and go live a life uninhibited by the painted lanes of a servile society, for the good of our species and for the honor of your own majesty. Leave the cage they built for you in a ditch by the freeway and stride out boldly into uncharted lands beneath the open sky.

    • Christopher Allan Webber: Privilege isn’t a sin, but it’s a responsibility and a debt to be repaid

      Recently I was on a private mailing list thread where there was debate about whether or not the project should take on steps to improve diversity. One of the mailing list participants was very upset about this idea, and said that they didn’t like when people accused them of the “original sin” of having white male privilege.

      I suspect this is at the root of a lot of misunderstanding and frustration around the term “privilege”. Privilege is not a sin… you are not a sinner for having privilege. However it is a responsibility and a debt to be repaid and corrected for, stemming from injustices in society.

      A popular social narrative is that everyone has an equal place at the starting line, so the winners and losers of a race are equally based on their merit. Unfortunately this isn’t true. Privilege is being able to show up at the starting line having had sleep and a good meal and the resources to train… you still worked to be able to get to the finish line and having privilege does not take that away. But if we look at the other people on the track we could see that they not only maybe didn’t get enough sleep or were not able to allocate time to train (maybe they had to work multiple jobs on the side) or couldn’t afford to eat as healthily. Some of them actually may even have to start back farther from the starting line, there are rocks and weeds and potholes in their paths. If we really want to treat everyone based on merit, we’d have to give everyone an equal place at the starting line, an equal track, etc. Unfortunately, due to the way the race is set up, that does mean needing to correct for some things, and it requires actual effort to repair the track.

    • Lithuania decides not to appeal against ECHR ruling on CIA prison

      The Lithuanian government has decided not to appeal against the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA detention facility.

      “It was decided that it would make no sense to appeal the judgement to the Grand Chamber, because there are no legal criteria for that,” Karolina Bubnyte-Sirmene, the government’s representative at the ECHR, told BNS on Wednesday.

      Although Lithuania has doubts about the standard for evaluating evidence used by the Strasbourg-based court, this cannot serve as a ground of appeal, Bubnyte-Sirmene said.

      Under the rules, judgments can only be reviewed if it is proved that the court’s case law is unclear or that the case dealt with a matter of universal importance, she said.

      The ECHR ruled on May 31 that Lithuania hosted a secret CIA prison for terror suspects between 2005 and 2006.

      The court ordered Lithuania to pay 130,000 euros to Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi Arabia-born Palestinian, in compensation for his arbitrary detention in Lithuania.

    • Lithuania says it will not appeal European court ruling over CIA torture jail

      Lithuania on Wednesday (22 August) said it would not appeal a European court ruling that the Baltic state had been complicit in a clandestine CIA programme by holding terror suspects at a secret detention site on its territory.

      “We decided it would make no sense to appeal to the Great Chamber because there are no legal criteria for that,” government official Karolina Bubnyte Sirmene told AFP.

    • Lithuania Not to Appeal European Court Ruling Over US CIA Prisons – Official

      Lithuania decided not to appeal the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that the Baltic country hosted a secret CIA jail, where the agency held and interrogated terrorism suspects, the press service of Lithuania’s representative at the court said in a statement on Thursday.

      “A decision was taken not to refer to the Grand Chamber over the case Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania. Such a decision is a result of several factors which would ultimately prevent the appeal from achieving its goal and could possibly undermine Lithuania’s reputation on the international scene,” the statement read.

      The ECHR ruled in late May that Lithuania was complicit in CIA’s secret rendition program which led to rights violations and arbitrary detention in CIA “black sites” of al-Qaeda* suspects, including Palestinian Abu Zubaydah.

    • The long legacy of Frederick Douglass

      Neil Roberts: What I wanted to do was to have, in a single volume, something that had not been made before. That’s a single volume that combines new essays with reprints of important essays from Frederick Douglass’s contemporaries, all on Douglass’s political thought. Douglass has, rightly so, been written about extensively in the areas of literature, history, rhetoric and public policy. But interestingly, he has not been treated as widely and as systematically in terms of his political thought, in terms of his contribution to different concepts.

      I wanted to assemble this volume so that scholars of Douglass, lay intellectuals, and even those who are relatively unknowledgeable about Douglass could all access very accessible works. In addition, the book has a very extensive, thematic bibliography. So beyond just the book it offers a lot for those who are interested in biographies of Douglass, works by Douglass, or secondary works either about Douglass or about themes that Douglass wrote about in his wide career.

      In my introduction (“Political Thought in the Shadow of Douglass”), instead of writing a summation of the essays in the book, I spent a large degree of time trying to reflect on, 200 years after his birth, why Douglass is significant in our current moment. I am really excited about its publication this summer, and my hope is that it can be a resource for readers who are interested in Douglass and in wanting to keep his legacy alive.

    • Sen. John McCain’s complicated moral legacy on torture

      The late Republican senator was a strong moral voice against torture. But his willingness to compromise his principles tarnished that legacy.

    • McCain’s experience as POW shaped lifelong opposition to torture

      During the Vietnam War, John McCain, then a 31-year old Navy pilot, was shot down in his plane over North Vietnamese territory, leading to five brutal years of captivity as a prisoner of war.

      The torture McCain endured at the hands of his captors produced lifelong physical effects, including the inability to raise his arms above his head and a slight limp.

    • See Ya, John

      Glorifying McCain as a war hero allows us to imagine away the sins of Vietnam by making ourselves the victim. He encouraged unjust war in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and more as a cornerstone of his career.

      When given the chance, he sold out and took Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate, enabling a change in the GOP and political discourse we are still paying for and he is responsible.

      As a victim himself of torture, McCain stood mostly silent when America tortured, finally mouthing some mild public platitudes while allowing the coverup to hide what we did. The American public knows 10x as much about McCain’s own torture as we do about what was done by American torturers to other human beings. Honor is not allowing torturers to go unpunished. Duty is not helping a coverup. Country deserves better from someone who knows better.

    • Former top Vatican official claims Pope Francis knew about abuse crisis and now should resign

      A former top Vatican official has accused Pope Francis of having known of allegations of sex abuse by a prominent U.S. cardinal for years and called on him to resign, in an unprecedented broadside against the pope by a Church insider.

      In a detailed 11-page bombshell statement given to conservative Roman Catholic media outlets during the Pope’s visit to Ireland, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano accused a long list of current and past Vatican and U.S. Church officials of covering up the case of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned last month in disgrace.

    • In Case Against Indigenous #NoDAPL Activist Chase Iron Eyes, Judge Accepts Plea Deal That Drops Most Serious Charges

      On August 21, North Dakota state prosecutors offered attorney and activist Chase Iron Eyes a plea deal for charges filed against him. They stem from protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline on February 1, 2017.

      The plea agreement dropped all serious charges against Iron Eyes, which included inciting a riot and criminal trespass. He faced a maximum of six years in state prison and would have lost his license to practice law.

      It reduces his charges to a class B misdemeanor of disorderly conduct, keeping him out of jail and removing the risk that he may lose his license to practice law.

      North Dakota Supreme Court Judge Lee Christofferson approved the plea deal on August 23.

      Private military contractor TigerSwan identified Chase Iron Eyes as one of the leaders of the No DAPL movement during the protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and conducted surveillance on him according to documents obtained by the Intercept. He ran as the Democratic candidate in the 2016 election to try to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer to represent North Dakota’s at-large congressional district.

      In his first interview since the plea deal was offered and accepted, Iron Eyes explained why he accepted the deal.

    • Understanding the mainstreaming of the far right

      Much has been written recently about the rise of the far right and its growing impact on mainstream politics. While the campaign and election of Trump remains the most covered event, the strong performance of the Freedom Party in Austria, the Front National in France, the Lega in Italy and the victory of Brexit in the UK amongst others have made such discussions ubiquitous. Countless texts focus on the ways in which the discourse of parties and movements once considered toxic have evolved or been adapted.

      While the concepts of ‘mainstream’ and ‘mainstreaming’ have commonly been invoked, their definition has been elusive, or rather avoided by scholars and experts on the topic – partly due to the fact that defining the mainstream is itself a challenge. Defining the mainstream is itself a challenge.

      It is therefore not surprising that much of the scholarly work about the mainstreaming of the far right in Europe has been based on electoral performance. Yet, focusing solely on parties and electoral politics risks both underestimating and exaggerating certain phenomena. In the 2007 French presidential election, for example, the defeat of the Front National was only a result of Nicolas Sarkozy’s absorption of many of its ideas, leading in turn to the mainstreaming of the far right party and its return to the forefront of politics. UKIP faced a similar fate after the Brexit victory, and Farage, who has continued to receive disproportionate coverage, was only too happy to say as he stood down from the party leadership that “The Ukippers will have been the turkeys who voted for Christmas.” In the US, white supremacists such as Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer, whose electoral weight is close to nil, have also received disproportionate coverage, including by the more liberal media. This occurs in a context where the far right has endorsed and been supported and emboldened by Trump.

      Therefore, we believe that it is essential to move beyond electoral politics to understand the way the far right is being mainstreamed. To do so, a few ‘common sense’ tropes must be challenged…

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • A Design of its Own: How to Protect the Fashion Industry

      This note discusses the gap in intellectual property protections for the fashion industry. First, it details why fashion is art of the type that typically qualifies for copyright protection, and not just a means of covering the body. Next, it discusses why this hybrid nature makes it unique and worthy of protection under current U.S. copyright law. Because designs are often chosen not just for their functional purpose, but for their artistic and expressive qualities, clothing is different from many other types of works protected by IP frameworks, including trademark and patent. The dual purpose and ability of fashion to be used as a form of expression should not keep if from the protection it deserves. The Supreme Court addressed the standard for copyright protection in the context of clothing design in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands. This Note suggests that this recent development marks an opportune time to push for new legislation that will expand the Star Athletica ruling. These increased protections for the fashion industry should be developed by drawing on other forms of IP protection for fashion in the United States, and protections in place in other countries. These hybrid works call for a hybrid solution. Though its solution, this Note fills the gap for fashion designs, particularly for designers that are just starting out or less conspicuous when it comes to branding.

    • Critical Review of Intellectual Property of Its Issue and Challenge

      Intellectual Property ordinarily includes patent, design, trademark and copyright. Due to the technological growth and globalization. Intellectual Property (IP) has acquired an international character. The greater importance on Intellectual Property all over the world can be traced from the concern of different international organization. WIPO and WTO are playing the leading role jointly for the protection of Intellectual property. Under the WTO agreement developing countries and transition economies were given use years to ensure that their laws and practices conform with the TRIPS agreement (1995 to 2000). Least-developed countries had 11 years, until 2006 conform to the TRIPS agreement. This papers described about the critical review of Intellectual property and its issue, challenge and opportunity.

    • Is Intellectual Property ‘Disrupted’ by the Algorithm That Feeds You Information in an Era of Fake News?

      In April, 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by members of Congress in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. in a series of questions about the company’s best effort to protect privacy and act against Russian interference in the 2016 election. For the reason that Facebook merely considers itself as “a technology company—one that has built a ‘platform for all ideas’,” it allows the News Feed Algorithm to respond to what the company deems the most important “kind” of information for the users. However, those contents in the information flow are sometimes cheaply generated by what we called “content farms” and can be intentionally manipulated by data analytics firms, such as Cambridge Analytica. Everyone is asking: everyone thinks Cambridge Analytica is dangerous, but no one can describe in great detail what it has done. Just the same as what we are facing now: everyone thinks Big Data is an ever-changing and far-reaching technology, but no one exactly knows why intellectual property (IP) laws should play an important part in regulating Big Data. Here, in a downright way, the issue is: is the function of IP laws “disrupted” or “undisrupted” by the News Feed Algorithm?

      The insight to answer this question may be obtained from the classical debate, “law of the horse,” between Judge Easterbrook of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Professor Lawrence Lessig: do we have a special need to adjust IP laws specially for Big Data, or we should go back to the basics: what is IP law in general and what kind of role does IP play in the society and cyber-society? Significantly, the News Feed Algorithm is targeting the mass who read the information, while IP laws are about the protection of Big Data companies’ valuable IP assets, such as patent protection for the algorithm. All the issues have the same concern: does public law have the supremacy to “disrupt” private property protection?

    • Yochai Benkler on Innovation & Networks

      Yochai Benkler is a giant within the intellectual history of IP law; some of his work will surely end up on my Classic Patent Scholarship page if I expand it to post-2000 works. Even though I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, I think IP scholars should at least be familiar with his arguments. For those who haven’t read his earlier works—or who just want a refresher on his take—you might enjoy his recent review article, Law, Innovation, and Collaboration in Networked Economy and Society, 13 Ann. Rev. L. & Soc. Sci. 231 (2017).

    • Copyrights
      • TorrentFreak is Blocked as a Pirate Site and Hacking Resource

        Court-ordered pirate site blockades are pretty common nowadays. While not everyone sees these as the ideal solution for the problem at hand, they follow the letter of the law. More problematic are the private blocking efforts by various Wifi providers, which we are frequently the target of. Apparently, TorrentFreak is a pirate site too.

Patent Trolls Roundup: Epic IP (IP Edge), Cumberland Systems, MacroSolve and Others

Sunday 26th of August 2018 01:42:43 PM


Hvítserkur Rock Formation – The Troll of North-West Iceland

Summary: A quick weekly look at actions by and against parasites that produce nothing but patent lawsuits, typically with unoriginal software patents that have no footing in today’s patent climate in the United States

THE USPTO has fed the trolls. Yes, it has. By granting millions of patents that are of questionable validity it created an ‘underworld’ or a ‘black market’ of blackmail and extortion. Trolls with such dubious patents go after small businesses that are unable or unwilling to pursue legal defense; if the patent ‘protection’ sums (it’s really just a racket) don’t add up as much as litigation against large firms with deep pockets, then the trolls make up by ‘volume’ (targeting potentially thousands of small businesses with threatening letters).

“Bounties nowadays help invalidate patents of patent trolls (i.e. disarm/neutralise them), as we first noted some months back.”It is important to name and shame the trolls, which are often pseudo-(or poly-)nymous. They keep shifting shapes and names so as to better cover their tracks and hide who’s behind them (subsidising them and sometimes directing them, as Microsoft often does).

Several days ago when we wrote about patent trolls dropping like flies (because of legal challenges to their patents) we could just about predict/foresee Watchtroll writing in defense of these trolls. We don’t want to feed the (Watch)trolls, but let’s just say that it’s pretty revealing who supports them and props up their agenda. It’s often the sites sponsored by the trolls (like IAM) or authors to whom trolls are clients.

Bounties nowadays help invalidate patents of patent trolls (i.e. disarm/neutralise them), as we first noted some months back. Days ago Unified Patents (prolific filer of inter partes reviews (IPRs) at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)) posted not just one but two new examples of this. Someone “received a cash prize of $2000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 6,434,599, owned by Epic IP,” Mr. Jain wrote. Here’s some background:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Nikhil Bhaskar, who received a cash prize of $2000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 6,434,599, owned by Epic IP, an IP Edge subsidiary and well-known NPE. The ’599 patent, directed towards an online chatting method, has been asserted against numerous companies in district court litigation. To help the industry fight bad patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

We would also like to thank the dozens of other high-quality submissions that were made on this patent. The ongoing contests are open to anyone, and include tens of thousands of dollars in rewards available for helping the industry to challenge NPE patents of questionable validity by finding and submitting prior art in the contests. Visit PATROLL today to learn more about how to participate.

Another patent troll was tackled by patent prior art and bounties help motivate submissions to that effect. To quote:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winner, Sachin Srivastava, who received a cash prize of $2000 for his prior art submission for U.S. Patent 8,023,647, owned by Cumberland Systems, LLC, a well-known NPE. The ’647 patent, directed to a password encryption system and method, has been asserted against numerous companies in 24 district court litigations. To help the industry fight bad patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

Josh Landau (from the technology-centric CCIA) has meanwhile written about software patents which enable patent troll (“NPE”) MacroSolve to blackmail restaurants. “NPE Resurrects Canceled Patent To Go After Restaurants—Questionable questionnaire patent revived to go after restaurant mobile apps,” said the accompanying tweet and here’s the gist of it (the patents at hand):

A few years ago, a company called MacroSolve stopped creating products and started creating patent litigation. Its tool was a patent that claimed to cover mobile questionnaires. But after several of their targets decided to fight back, filing an ex parte reexamination request that wound up cancelling all of the claims of its patent, MacroSolve dropped their litigation campaign.

That should have been the end of the story—a poor-quality patent is issued, a company asserts the patent, and the patent gets invalidated. But as of last week, a new patent claiming the same basic idea is being used to go after a wide variety of restaurants under a new company name—Fall Line.

Questionable Patent #1

MacroSolve’s original patent on a “System and method for data management”—the ‘816 patent—claimed to cover taking a questionnaire, turning the questionnaire into tokens, wirelessly sending the tokens to a remote computer, using the tokens to collect a survey response from a user, and sending the results back.

In other words, the same online web survey using HTML forms that I filled out when I registered for college classes, years before MacroSolve “invented” the idea.

Say Goodbye To Questionable Patent #1

MacroSolve took the ‘816 patent and sued over 60 different companies, ranging from airlines to retailers to hotels. They filed their suits in the Eastern District of Texas. Rather than face the expense of litigation, a number of companies took inexpensive licenses, but eventually MacroSolve sued Newegg and Geico. They chose to fight, rather than settle, filing a request for ex parte reexamination.

The USPTO took a look at the ‘816 patent and agreed that it should never have issued—they cancelled all of the claims of the ‘816 patent.

And Hello To Questionable Patent #2

That should have been the end of the story. It wasn’t.

MacroSolve had filed a continuation application, which creates a separate patent application unaffected by the first patent being invalidated. After the ‘816 patent was invalidated, MacroSolve transferred the patents to a new company, Ediche, which continued to try to patent the same basic idea

We have meanwhile found Kluwer Patent Blog covering the recent Facebook case, which was first mentioned here last week (days after the decision from the Federal Circuit). It’s one of the latest defeats for software patents in this high court for patents (highest bar SCOTUS). To quote:

In a challenge to Facebook’s patent application for a method for arranging images contiguously in an array, a prior art reference—a patent application filed by Perrodin that related to placing images on a grid and did not require contiguity in response to resizing or rearranging in all cases—could not have disclosed the limitation of Facebook’s application that required all of the image elements to be contiguous, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled.

Last but not least, here’s an oddly-titled report, “Blackberry Patent War Mostly Survives Attack by Facebook, Snap” (very gross inversion of narratives).

Blackberry barely acts like a real company anymore (some call it a “troll”), so Facebook and Snap are defending themselves from the troll’s (Blackberry) attack. It’s not Blackberry “surviving” and being “attacked” but its questionable software patents reassessed. The lawsuit/battle is still in its early stages and here is what has happened thus far:

A federal judge on Tuesday kept intact the bulk of Blackberry’s patent infringement claims against Facebook and Snap, finding it’s too early in the proceedings to say Blackberry’s patents aren’t valid.

Blackberry sued the social media titans in March, claiming it pioneered the “sense of real-time presence” that is now standard in instant messaging applications when it developed the first messaging platform with timestamps.

The Canada-based smartphone maker accused Snap and Facebook of copying patents covering the timestamp tool, message notification icons, push notifications for ads and mapping media activity by users for their services.

Like we said at the time, these are software patents which PTAB would likely deem/consider to be invalid. Patent lawsuits such as these, however, can take a long time (years) and cost millions of dollars irrespective of the outcome.

The Patent ‘Industry’ Continues to Mislead the Public on Software Patents

Sunday 26th of August 2018 11:50:18 AM

Mainstream media saturated/flooded by sales pitch rather than information

Summary: Even though software patents are still abstract and are therefore disallowed in courts, those who are in the business of patent litigation try hard to convince people/firms to pursue such patents

THE LEGALITY or rather the legitimacy of software patents was once the subject of interest in Europe, even more than a decade before EPO scandals. Can patents be granted which courts would, as a matter of law, repeatedly reject? Can patent offices and patent courts be so out of tune? The USPTO has, in recent years, faced a similar dilemma. What if US patents are granted on algorithms and these patents consistently get knocked out in the courtroom? What would be the effect on confidence in patents at large?

As we have been saying for a number of years, software patents are a waste of time and money; if disguised somehow as non-abstract, examiners might award them. But what kind of “award” are these really if granted patents aren’t admissible in courts? Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) often eliminate these even outside the courts.

As always, the patent ‘industry’ does not like to acknowledge the above because it’s “not good for business” (their business). Don’t ask patent lawyers about software patents. These patent-centric lawyers will lie to anyone about needing a patents arsenal or portfolio (potentially billions to be made in the process of applying, selling and suing). Even if most of these patents are bunk, toothless and worthless, law firms stand to benefit financially.

There’s this new article titled “Ask a Lawyer: How do I patent my tech innovation?”

The aforementioned observations about legitimacy of software patents are set aside and this article by Brett Slaney, who says he “is a patent agent,” misleads on the matter. He is giving the false impression, as usual, that these patents are worth pursuing. Here’s the relevant part:

Patenting software-based methods

For most software patents, particularly those focusing on algorithms, the claimed invention is typically embodied as a method that involves carrying out particular steps (e.g., according to an “algorithm”) to provide an inventive contribution to a technical field.

For example, a mathematical algorithm or function that can reduce the size of a data packet or encrypt that data packet, when recited as a series of steps applied to the data packet to create a compressed or encrypted data packet in a new way, could be patented as a method. Similarly, an algorithm that reduces the computational efforts in traversing a neural network or that creates a more accurate classifier in a machine learning application, could be patented as a method.

Furthermore, any system (i.e. machine) that includes the necessary technical components (transceivers, processors, memory, etc.) to carry out the method, and the computer-executed instructions, that when executed by a computer carry out the method, can also be patented. Far from being excluded from the patent system, here are three types of patent protection Alice and Bob can consider for their tool.

Don’t take lawyers’ advice on patents. They ‘sell’ lawsuits. Even ones to lose (both the plaintiff and the defendant need to hire lawyers). Notice that Alice isn’t being mentioned above, nor is the appalling track record of software patents in the courtroom.

As usual, most patent lawyers lie about software patents in an effort to sell their crappy services. Honesty is not “not good for business” (their business) and here we have a new article from James J. DeCarlo and George Zalepa (Greenberg Traurig) saying that “[t]he last four years have posed significant hurdles to software patents…” (correct)

“…nevertheless they continue to be filed and allowed,” says the summary.

Allowed by who? The office. They’re very rarely allowed in courts. It’s that latter that matters a lot more.

PTAB Haters (the Patent Maximalists) Hope That SCOTUS Will Save Their Quality-Reducing Agenda

Sunday 26th of August 2018 06:08:33 AM

Mere months after Oil States, which dealt with this matter already

Summary: Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) still exploit 35 U.S.C. § 101 to invalidate a lot of abstract patents; in between rants about § 101 itself, proponents of software patents (typically patent lawyers) try to undermine the very mechanism of applying § 101

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), taking precedential Federal Circuit (CAFC) rulings into account, already limits patent scope — to the point of patent grants decreasing in number.

“They just want to waste even more of the courts’ time, giving perception of interim legitimacy for their massive, elaborate ‘scam’.”Patent lawyers’ interests, which are purely financial (because they do not create anything), aren’t served by this trend. Some have already attempted dirty tricks by which to avoid patents being rechecked (knowing that a reassessment would likely void patents). Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), for example, are being dodged by misusing (claims of) immunity. A few days ago Kevin E. Noonan revisited the patent ‘scam’ from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (its law firm along with Allergan’s). They just want to waste even more of the courts’ time, giving perception of interim legitimacy for their massive, elaborate ‘scam’. Eiren O’Keeffe told me: “This is indeed an elaborate scam, designed to further shield big Pharma from opening up to keep profits high and patients subservient. Ridiculous this is even allowed to progress given the obvious motivation behind these actions.”

Here is what Noonan wrote:

On July 22nd, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., affirming the decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that denied the Tribe’s motion to terminate Mylan’s inter partes review (IPR) proceedings as being barred by tribal sovereign immunity. Yesterday, the Tribe filed its brief in support of its petition for rehearing en banc.

We are pretty certain that SCOTUS won't deal with this. It would be a total waste of the court’s time.

“They are trying to make it seem as though software patents still have some worth, but that’s patently untrue.”Be sure, however, that patent extremists would do anything they can to advocate even ‘scams’ (like the above). They hate PTAB with a passion, so they’d cling onto anything!

The anti-PTAB site Anticipat, for instance, uses or takes out of context very tiny difference which can be easily explained to say “abstract idea reversal rate continues upward trend for July” (that’s the headline). They are trying to make it seem as though software patents still have some worth, but that’s patently untrue. To quote:

Similar to June, in July the PTAB decided a lot of abstract idea rejections. Of 195 total, 32 were reversed, yielding a pure reversal rate of 16.5%. One decision was partially affirmed, yielding a partial reverse rate of 17%.

The difference is minuscule and we offered an explanation for it earlier this month. In a nutshell, fewer people even bother with their patents; only ‘stronger’ cases are even being tested.

Moving on to other anti-PTAB sites, Watchtroll again (and intentionally) conflates patents with innovation or “invention” (yesterday’s guest article from Trevor Day and Neil Ferraro). One can invent things without patent applications, as many have done for centuries. But let’s put this spin aside.

Over at Watchtroll, Burman York (Bud) Mathis III is again heckling judges of CAFC because of their stance on software patents. He sure has a habit of doing so. To quote: “Judge Jimmie Reyna’s decision in McRO v Bandai is without question one of the best decisions to emerge from the Federal Circuit as it competently addressed key elements of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. Judge Kara Stoll and Judge Richard Taranto, who signed onto this landmark opinion, should also be praised with Judge Reyna. The McRO decision, among other things, stands for the idea that software is a process under 35 U. S. C. § 101, and that a claim that does naught more than receive data, process data and “apply” the processed data is patent eligible under § 101. The representative claim of McRO is reproduced below for convenience.”

“Watchtroll produced anti-PTAB pieces even twice on the same day (Monday).”McRO is a relatively old decision (a couple of years old) from back when Watchtroll attacked CAFC judges pretty viciously. The site does not care about patent quality at all; to make matters worse, it actively bashes technology companies and judges who oppose abstract software patents. Does Watchtroll stand for science and technology? Or for litigation? For justice? Or just for profits? Watchtroll has always been this crude. Watchtroll’s anti-PTAB agenda resumes, as does the 35 U.S.C. § 101 bashing for abstract ideas, which meant the very end of software patents (at least in US patent courts). These people once again hope that the Justices — however unlikely this may be — would offer redemption to them. Days ago Patently-O wrote: “Whether undisputed evidence that a patented invention is not unduly preemptive, presented to technically proficient judges of the Board, is relevant to the question whether the invention is patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

Dennis Crouch said it in relation to Smartflash v. Samsung, which saw a SCOTUS petition filed (“Smartflash Patents at issue here: U.S. Patent Nos. 7,334,720; 7,942,317; 8,033,458; 8,061,598; 8,118,221; 8,336,772; and 8,794,516.”).

Watchtroll’s Steve Brachmann wrote about a patent troll’s petition (Advanced Audio Devices) under “Supreme Court Petition Challenges PTAB’s Constitutionality Under the Takings Clause” (this issue or a similar issue was already challenged or tackled only months ago).

“These patent extremists believe that can somehow abolish IPRs, but they cannot.”Watchtroll produced anti-PTAB pieces even twice on the same day (Monday). Gene Quinn did another one, insinuating that there are “Shell Games” at PTAB. Then again on Wednesday Watchtroll was attacking PTAB (over “Transparency”). These patent extremists believe that can somehow abolish IPRs, but they cannot. Justices stand in their way. They know it. Days earlier Jeremy Doerre added another one of those patent maximalist pieces and Patently-O talked about stupid design patents (SCOTUS should knock these out and probably would had it gotten the chance). Here’s what Patently-O said:

During prosecution, the USPTO (examiner then PTAB) rejected the patent — finding the claim indefinite and not enabled. The particular problem with the drawing is that it is a flat plan view and does not show the three-dimensional structure — what do these lines actually represent in terms of 3D hills and valleys? The figures below is more ordinary for a shoe sole design — showing more than just a plan-view of the base.

[...]

In the end, this means that Maatita’s patent will be much broader in scope because it is not limited to any particular three-dimensional shape, but rather only a to the appearance from a particular perspective.

The decision here is also in-line with the Federal Circuit’s ongoing undermining of the indefiniteness doctrine — what does “reasonable certainty” mean to the court?

Patents on shoe sole designs? What next? Things like the patent below… (assigned to Zach Snyder)

‘Cult of Patents’ Has Cheapened Patents and Nowadays Patent Law Firms Are Collapsing

Sunday 26th of August 2018 04:00:31 AM

Patents are becoming toothless, clawless

Summary: The decline in patent quality is counterproductive in the long run; it assures that the patent system, especially the patent lawsuits element of it, loses momentum

THE concerns expressed by large law firms about EPO scandals aren’t out of date; they’re still applicable because António Campinos hasn’t changed anything at all; what about the USPTO, whose patents (that it grants) are often found to be invalid in patent courts, such as the Federal Circuit and sometimes SCOTUS too? The matter of fact is, if patents are improperly being granted, people will lose confidence in them. And this, in turn, would reduce demand for them, perceived value of them, and ultimately cause the collapse of patent law firms (which in turn get absorbed by one another in order to get enough ‘business’ such as litigation flowing). Last year we wrote several articles about the demise of patent law firms and patent trolls. The patent bubble had burst. We have not seen any potent rebuttal to this, albeit days ago Patently-O wrote about that old strategy of firms getting absorbed when they’re defunct. “One Example,” Patently-O said, came on “August 21, 2018 – Venable LLP, an American Lawyer Global 100 firm, and Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, one of the world’s leading intellectual property firms, have reached an agreement for Fitzpatrick to join Venable.”

“Last year we wrote several articles about the demise of patent law firms and patent trolls.”Are patent lawyers a dying breed? Trying hard to find work and getting ‘bought’ as a publicity stunt for mere hirings? This is commonly done in the technology sector (hirings disguised as takeovers). There are even catchy words and phrases that describe these routines. Here is another new example that is only days old (“Stinson Leonard Street combines with St. Louis intellectual property firm”). M&A as publicity stunt? How about this (“Apprenda attempting to sell its assets after business shuts down”) from 5 days ago? Well, patents are not really “assets”; this metaphor just isn’t helpful at all.

“People who do patents for a living (not invention but mere patents) may think or even lie to themselves about doing ‘humanitarian’ work; but those on the receiving end of patent lawsuits and blackmail from patent trolls would beg to differ.”We remain convinced that in order for the patent system to maintain a sense of legitimacy it will need to improve patent quality. Days ago Managing IP wrote about the low quality of patents granted in China and Patently-O wrote about “USPTO China IP Roadshow at the University of Iowa College of Law”. China’s SIPO — like WIPO — demonstrates patent maximalism gone extreme. They don’t seem to care about patent quality at all. All they care about is numbers!

Not too long ago the USPTO celebrated 10 million patents (never mind if the ten millionth might be invalid). The USPTO even made a special subsite to mark this ‘event’ and IP Kat currently continues its dance with the ‘Cult of Patents’ (people who believe that the more patents the merrier, irrespective of their merit/quality). A few days ago the patent microcosm published this article which said:

The 10 millionth U.S. patent will largely be a celebratory event, but it has warranted a lot of preparation at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Especially its IT department.

For the first time in more than 100 years—and for the first time in the computer era, of course—the patent office will issue patents with eight digits. The situation could be likened, somewhat, to the end of the 20th century and the Y2K scare—when old software code had to be upgraded so that software systems throughout the world would function properly when the year 2000 arrived.

Look how many patents used to be granted in the US 100 years ago, 50 years ago, 20 years ago and so on. It’s not innovation that’s accelerating. It’s just patenting activity that’s soaring.

The USPTO is well aware of the situation. It knows that it has become just a patent-granting ‘machine’ and Donald Zuhn — himself a patent maximalist — is one among several people who are now scrambling to paint a patent monopoly as a humanitarian thing. They have this thing called “Patents for Humanity,” again backed by the USPTO (like celebration of 10 million patents). To quote:

Earlier this month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the latest winners of the Patents for Humanity program. The Patents for Humanity program, which was launched by the Office in February 2012 as part of an Obama Administration initiative to promote game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges, is a competition recognizing innovators who use game-changing technology to meet global humanitarian challenges. Entrants are divided into five categories: medicine, nutrition, sanitation, household energy, and living standards. The Office noted that in this latest round, there were nine winners and six honorable mentions. Winners receive an acceleration certificate to expedite select proceedings at the USPTO (i.e., a patent application, ex parte reexamination, or an ex parte appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board) in addition to public recognition for their work.

People who do patents for a living (not invention but mere patents) may think or even lie to themselves about doing ‘humanitarian’ work; but those on the receiving end of patent lawsuits and blackmail from patent trolls would beg to differ.

The USPTO’s New Strategic Plan Should be to Keep Services Available and Actually Explain a Week’s Downtime

Sunday 26th of August 2018 03:09:39 AM

Of course patent quality too should be a priority

Summary: The USPTO faces legitimacy problems after a long downtime, failure to explain this downtime, and persistent questions about enforceability of USPTO-granted patents in courts, not to mention in the USPTO’s own Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

THE MONTH of August was a tough one for the USPTO and we can imagine that some technical staff needed to be recalled from holidays.

“Iancu sounds like PR person.”“The recent failure of USPTO PALM database is a direct result of John Owens, Tony Chiles and Pam Isom’s incompetency,” an insider wrote. “This time Owens cannot blame a power failure,” this insider added, alluding to previous incidents which were nowhere as severe as the latest [1, 2].

“After a week of the USPTO’s electronic patent filing systems being down, the office says “the director will prescribe a procedure that will allow you to seek a refund of the paper filing fee”. But some observers say this will be tricky,” Michael Loney wrote. The USPTO was still ‘on fire’ (as in up in flames) until a few days ago. Every page came up with pop-ups containing a face-saving message about key services being down. At the moment (minutes ago) the pop-up instead says: “You have been randomly selected to take part in this survey that is being conducted by ForeSee on behalf of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The feedback you provide will help the United States Patent and Trademark Office enhance its site and serve you better in the future. All results are strictly confidential – see our Privacy Policy for details.”

So we assume that the downtime is over, well over a week after it started. Now comes Director Iancu with ‘damage control’. A nontechnical director, selected by Trump after he had worked for him, is talking about a technical problem. Patently-O has the full text, which is pure spin from Iancu (a lawyer, spin is what these people do for a living), spinning over a week’s downtime as a ‘feature’ or ‘improvement’…

“In the process of getting everything back up and running, we sought not merely to restore but also to improve our PALM operating systems,” he wrote. “Among other things we now have enhanced servers and performance optimization, such that the resulting condition is better than it was before the outage.”

Aha! So people should really be thankful for the outage! A blessing in disguise? Iancu sounds like PR person. But see the comments. They’re rightly upset. To quote the first couple of comments:

What challenges? I guess it doesn’t matter how/why it happened? Any interest in explaining how the PTO plans on it not happening again? This is now the second time that a lengthy outage has occurred, on top of the daily sporadic outages.

Also, is there any logical a reason to tie the contingency EFS in with the same system that houses the primary PALM database? What’s the good in a contingency system if its availability is inextricably tied to the availability of the system that it’s supposed to back up?

It’s simple: Two is one and one is none.

And the second:

It is part of the citizens of the US becoming peons. People in charge don’t have to explain. I don’t think that contained an apology either. And it described “the outage” as if it was an act of G*d.

There’s lots more along those lines. Why the USPTO was down is still unexplained. What a mystery. From a government-connected entity better can and should be expected.

Patently-O has meanwhile published the “USPTO New Strategic Plan (Draft),” to which I replied with: “a good strategy for the USPTO would be to first brings its service back online there has been a one-week downtime!” (it was still down at the time).

From Patently-O: “The Strategic Goals reflect the fact that the PTO is primarily a bureaucratic agency — and the main goal is quality bureaucracy. That means efficient, correct, and timely work. Thus, the PTO’s first strategic goal is “Issuing reliable IP rights.””

If patent quality is improved rather than lowered, patents would be more reliable in courts (the same goes for trademarks).

They speak of “optimizing patent and trademark quality,” so Iancu should just formally forbid software patents at the USPTO (it’s about time to do so, but of course he wouldn’t, he used to advocate these for money). IP Watch wrote about this draft as well:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking comments on its draft strategic plan for the years 2018-2022. The draft plan covers a range of goals, including optimizing patent and trademark quality and timeliness, and providing “domestic and global leadership to improve intellectual property policy, enforcement, and protection worldwide.”

Remember that the USPTO said its systems/services would be restored by last Tuesday. But no… that did not happen. It was down for over a week! The issues were apparently resolved in the past few days, maybe a couple of days ago.

Iancu’s response appears to have mostly angered stakeholders, who still don’t know what happened and whether anyone (company or person) was held accountable. Perhaps the above draft was released (prematurely even) as a form of distraction from Iancu and his team.

In other news, this one from Joseph Herndon, patents on candles were brought up in relation to a Federal Circuit ruling. Luminara is upset and is complaining that its own patents are utter rubbish. They should never have been granted by the USPTO (which merely profits from granting anyway, whenever there’s doubt). To quote Herndon:

Luminara Worldwide, LLC appealed from three inter partes review (IPR) decisions, in which the Patent Trial and Appeal Board held unpatentable a total of 31 claims across Luminara’s three patents. On appeal, Luminara challenged the Board’s decisions as to one claim from each patent and asserted that the Board’s application of the 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) time-bar was improper as to the ’319 patent. The Federal Circuit dismissed the IPR with respect to the ’319 patent, holding that the § 315(b) time-bar applied, and affirmed the other two IPR decisions.

The patents here are directed to making flameless candles that look and behave like real candles. Shenzhen Liown Electronics Co., Ltd. (Liown) requested inter partes review of 31 claims of the Luminara patents including U.S. Patent Nos. 8,696,166; 8,070,319; and 8,534,869. The three patents, which employ moving pendulums to simulate the appearance of a natural flame, are related.

In summary, Iancu’s Office (leadership) needs to seriously think about the quality and thus legitimacy of the patents it grants. It needs to do more to demonstrate that it can handle technical matters (over a week of outage certainly disputes this) and improve transparency, e.g. regarding the cause of the outage.

As things stand at the moment, the Office loses credibility even within or among its own stakeholders, who complain that their US patents are worthless, the service is poor, and the Office is facetious. Don’t make the USPTO another Battistelli-esque EPO.

Links 25/8/2018: Go 1.11, LLVM 7.0 RC2

Saturday 25th of August 2018 04:20:55 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Google Chrome OS

      Chrome OS is Google’s cloud-connected desktop operating system. This web-apps focused OS powers mostly inexpensive chromebooks, offering a low-cost desktop option for those of modest means or basic needs. That affordability, along with tie-ins to Google’s online productivity apps, has made the OS popular in the education market. The recent addition of the ability to run Android apps has given the OS new life and millions of new software choices, though the support for those apps is inconsistent. With that major integration still ongoing, Chrome OS feels like something of a work in progress, one that’s not suited to high-power computing needs. Still, for the right users, Chrome OS is a strong choice.

    • New Chrome OS v69 beta hits the Pixelbook with Linux support, night light, and more

      Google announced Linux app support on Chrome OS back at I/O, but it’s been slow to move it out of the dev channel. Finally, the Pixelbook just got a new build of Chrome v69 update that adds the beta Linux support. That’s not all—this was a rather major update.

      Make sure you have plenty of battery before installing this update. In addition to tweaking Chrome OS, the latest update brings changes to the BIOS and touchpad firmware. The installation process will take a few minutes longer than usual as a result. Once you get up and running, you can enable Linux support in the system settings. We have a handy tutorial to get you started installing Linux-y things.

    • How Google’s rumored ‘Campfire’ dual-boot Chromebooks may burn Microsoft

      even years ago, Google began an assault on Windows PCs with its cloud-centric Chromebook PC alternative. Google’s leveraging of a more secure, easier to manage, and more affordable “PC” positioned Chromebooks for market success. Despite this success, however, Chromebooks’ global market share still pales in comparison to Windows PC’s seemingly indomitable presence.

      Google remains committed to an unrelenting multifaceted assault on Windows PCs, in an attempt to position Chromebooks as the “PC” for the modern personal computing age. Android apps on Chrome, aggressive Chromebook ads, a strategic push in schools, Progressive Web App (PWAs), and low Chromebook prices are all tools Google has and will use to make Chromebooks appealing to the masses.

      Campfire, Google’s rumored Windows and Chrome dual-boot solution, is just the latest, and possibly most important, tool in Google’s arsenal to unseat Windows PCs as the PCs for the masses.

    • Some of Google’s Chromebook laptops won’t be getting support for Linux apps

      When Chromebooks first came out, you were limited to a small selection of apps, all made by Google. Over time, the company has opened up Chrome OS to accommodate third-party Android apps, and it’s recently added support for regular Linux apps as well. However, it turns out that a number of Chromebooks have a version of the operating system that’s simply too old to be compatible with this new batch of software.

  • Server
    • Is Kubernetes free as an open source software?

      So, is Kubernetes free?

      Yes, but also no.

      Pure open source Kubernetes is free and can be downloaded from its repository on GitHub. Administrators must build and deploy the Kubernetes release to a local system or cluster or to a system or cluster in a public cloud, such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) or Microsoft Azure.

      While the pure Kubernetes distribution is free to download, there are always costs involved with open source software. Without professional support, Kubernetes adopters need to pay in-house staff for help or contract someone knowledgeable. The Kubernetes admin needs a detailed working knowledge of Kubernetes software build creation and deployment within a Linux environment.

      In effect, users need to know what they’re getting into before they adopt open source software in the enterprise.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.18.5
    • Linux 4.17.19
    • Linux 4.14.67
    • Linux 4.9.124
    • Linux 4.4.152
    • What Stable Kernel Should I Use?

      I get a lot of questions about people asking me about what stable kernel should they be using for their product/device/laptop/server/etc. all the time. Especially given the now-extended length of time that some kernels are being supported by me and others, this isn’t always a very obvious thing to determine. So this post is an attempt to write down my opinions on the matter. Of course, you are free to use what ever kernel version you want, but here’s what I recommend.

      As always, the opinions written here are my own, I speak for no one but myself.

    • Happy birthday, Linux: 27 years

      Linux celebrates another birthday today—27 years! And we couldn’t be more pleased to share in the excitement. Many of our readers are Linux users, fans, nerds… the list of adjectives describing them goes on. What would you call yourself?

      I’d say I’m a Linux newbie with mad respect. On the technical side, I installed Linux for the first time in 2014. On the community side, I’ve been working with Linux folks for six years as an editor for Opensource.com. Because we gather and publish articles from the great, wide community of users out there, I meet and get to know hundreds of Linux users from all walks of life, of all ages and stages on their Linux journey. It’s a fascinating world, because Linux is eating the world with its millions of users, but also because Linux users are a passionate bunch. They feel that they’re on to something special. And they are.

    • Linus Torvalds announced the first version of what became Linux in 1991

      Linux, a free and open-source software operating system, was built around Linux Kernel, the central part of Linux operating systems, Android and Chrome OS. It all begun, when Linus Torvalds started working on his own operating system kernel in 1991. Linus Benedict Torvalds, a Finnish-American software engineer, was studying computer science at University of Helsinki. Linus wrote the program specifically for the hardware he was using and developed it on MINIX using the GNU C Compiler. Torvalds ended up writing an operating system kernel and announced it by posting to the newsgroup “comp.os.minix.” on 25 August 1991. Linux gained importance in 1992 after the X Window System was ported to Linux by Orest Zborowski.

    • Happy Birthday, Linux!

      Happy Birthday, Linux! It’s 27 years since Linus Torvalds’ famous Linux announcement of his (now hugely influential) open source operating system.

    • 27 Interesting Facts about Linux

      In honour of Linux’s birthday here’s a list 27 interesting facts about Linux, its creator Linus Torvalds, and the impact his “hobby” OS has had on the world.

      Since its creation back in 1991, the open source Unix-like operating system has gone on to revolutionise the world, empower startups, birth new industries, and help in the creation of new types of gadgets and technologies.

    • What was the most important moment in the history of Linux?

      Today Linux powers so much of the world’s infrastructure that it’s honestly hard to think of an industry that hasn’t been significantly shaped by its progress. From banks to healthcare giants to airlines, to almost all of the most popular websites in use today, and perhaps even the phone in your pocket, the world runs on Linux.

    • Intel Has Also Relicensed Their FSP Binaries: A Big Win To Coreboot, LinuxBoot

      There’s some good news beyond Intel’s CPU microcode re-licensing to clear up the confusion among users and developers this week: Intel is also re-licensing their FSP binaries to this same shorter and much more concise license.

      The FSP “Firmware Support Package” binaries used by the likes of Coreboot, LinuxBoot, and Facebook’s Open Compute Project is under this same license now as the CPU microcode files. The FSP bits have been closed-source for several generations but are used by Coreboot and friends for allowing their “BIOS” to be as open as possible otherwise. The Intel Firmware Support Package is basically the firmware that initializes the processor, memory controller, chipset, and other certain bits that unfortunately don’t have open-source initialization code available.

    • Linux Kernel Getting Better Support For The Apple Magic Keyboards

      The Magic Keyboard that was introduced by Apple in 2015 is seeing improved Linux support with a new kernel patch that’s pending.

      The Apple Magic Keyboard has worked with Linux already when using the USB-based connection, but not Bluetooth (though some have managed workarounds). Additionally, the Apple Magic Keyboard having the numeric keypad hasn’t worked with either USB or Bluetooth.

    • Linux Kernel And Its Functions

      People use Linux every day. Today almost all electronic products are built on Linux and the most popular ones are Android devices. Every day almost 850,000 Android devices are activated which is the largest compared to any other mobile devices manufacturer such as Windows phone, iPhone etc. It’s not just smartphones that Linux runs but every other gadget from your TV to a refrigerator is running on Linux. So how is this all possible and what is Linux all about? Let’s talk about this.
      Before identifying the main functions that the famous Linux Kernel has, it is vital to define what is the Linux Kernel.

    • A Global Switch To Kill Linux’s CPU Spectre/Meltdown Workarounds?

      Something I have seen asked in our forums and elsewhere — most recently on the kernel mailing list — is whether there is a single kernel option that can be used for disabling all of the Spectre/Meltdown workarounds and any other performance-hurting CPU vulnerability workarounds.

      With many of the mitigation patches for these speculative execution vulnerabilities hitting many processors these days, there’s often a measurable “performance tax” associated with them. Fortunately, for most of the mitigations they can be disabled at run-time via various options.

    • WireGuard Takes Another Step Towards The Mainline Linux Kernel

      Jason Donenfeld who has now spent years working on WireGuard as an in-kernel, secure network tunnel sent out a second version of his kernel patches on Friday.

      At the end of July he sent out the initial kernel patches for review and following that month worth of feedback he now has V2. The revised work includes splitting up some of the Zinc crypto code, code clean-ups, and other low-level improvements to this code.

    • IBM Posts Initial Patches For Linux Secure Virtual Machine On POWER

      IBM developers on Friday posted their initial Linux kernel patches for enabling Secure Virtual Machine (SVM) support with POWER hardware.

      These “request for comments” patches are their preliminary work on supporting Secure Virtual Machines on POWER.. The goal is on making the guest’s memory inaccessible to the hypervisor, similar to the work done by AMD for EPYC CPUs with Secure Encrypted Virtualization and as well some work by Intel for their CPUs.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Performance and Scalability Systems Microconference Accepted into 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference

        Core counts keep rising, and that means that the Linux kernel continues to encounter interesting performance and scalability issues. Which is not a bad thing, since it has been fifteen years since the “free lunch” of exponential CPU-clock frequency increases came to an abrupt end. During that time, the number of hardware threads per socket has risen sharply, approaching 100 for some high-end implementations. In addition, there is much more to scaling than simply larger numbers of CPUs.

    • Graphics Stack
      • RadeonSI Gets Patches For OpenGL 4.5 Compat, Workaround For No Man’s Sky On Steam Play

        Valve open-source Linux GPU driver developer Timothy Arceri has spent a lot of time in recent months improving the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver’s OpenGL compatibility profile support. Now there are patches taking it up to par with the core profile context support.

        With the imminent Mesa 18.2 release the RadeonSI OpenGL compatibility profile support has gone from OpenGL 3.2 to OpenGL 4.4 thanks to Arceri, Marek at AMD, and other contributors. This Friday morning Timothy has now posted patches bumping it to OpenGL 4.5.

      • RadeonSI Gets Another Handful Of OpenGL Extensions, Mirroring The PRO Driver’s Behavior

        Prolific Mesa contributor Marek Olšák has landed support for more OpenGL / OpenGL ES extensions into the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver.

      • AMD Posts Open-Source Vulkan Driver Code For Vega 12 GPU

        AMD developers have done their weekly code drop to their official open-source Linux Vulkan driver code. This week there are fixes while most interesting is initial support for the yet-to-launch Vega 12 graphics processor.

      • Looks like AMD just open sourced their V-EZ Vulkan wrapper

        When they initially announced V-EZ, they said it would be closed source and they would be working with “professional ISVs who would benefit from acquiring the source code”.

        I’ve seen a lot of developers mention how Vulkan really is a much more complex beast, which makes sense since it’s supposed to be closer to the hardware than OpenGL with a smaller, leaner driver giving developers more power and control. That’s not great for everyone though, so projects like this are still going to be useful. Previously, their GitHub page said “V-EZ is not aimed at game developers.”, however they seem to have removed that now too.

      • weston 5.0.0

        This is the official release of weston 5.0.0.

      • Wayland 1.16 Released, Likely The Last Time-Based Release, Plus Weston 5.0

        Current Wayland/Weston release manager Derek Foreman of Samsung OSG today announced the release of Wayland 1.16 as well as the Weston 5.0 reference compositor.

        Wayland 1.16 brings build system updates, drops the wl_buffer definition, the protocol now supports a zero physical size output, and other small work… Really nothing too major in Wayland 1.16.

      • mesa 18.1.7

        Mesa 18.1.7 is now available for general consumption. This release has been rather small compared to the last few release, There’s just a handful of fixes in total. Meson, radv, anv, gallium winsys, intel, i965, and r600 were the only recipients of fixs this go around.

      • Mesa 18.1.7 Released With Few Bug Fixes

        Mesa 18.1.7 ships with the last two weeks worth of fixes in the Mesa stable space. But overall this isn’t nearly as big as past Mesa 18.1 point releases. Mesa 18.1.7 has some minor fixes to R600 Gallium3D, Intel i965, RADV Vulkan driver fixes, the Doom workaround has been back-ported to RADV, and a variety of other fixes.’

    • Benchmarks
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Akademy, Akadeyou
      • Akademy Group Photo Automator

        Every year we take a group photo at Akademy and then me or one of the Kennies manually marks up the faces so people can tag them and we can know who we all are and build community. This is quite old school effort so this year I followed a mangazine tutorial and made Akademy Group Photo Automator to do it. This uses an AI library called face_recognition to do the hard work and Docker to manage the hard work and spits out the necessary HTML. It was a quick attempt and I’m not sure it did much good in the end alas. The group photos tend to be quite disorganised and whoever takes it upon themselves to direct it each year makes basic mistakes like putting everyone on a flat stage or making everyone wave their hands about which means many of the faces are half covered and not recognised. And it seems like the library is not a fan of glasses. It also outputs rect coordinates rather than circle ones which ment Kenny had to do many adjustments. Still it’s an interesting quick dive into a new area for me and maybe next year I’ll get it smoother.

      • A GNOME dev enters an Akademy and…

        And so three days later we traveled to Wien to meet with the KDE community. On arrival, we were pleased by a friendly and joyful ambient on the pre-registration party, which had no registration at all! We were happy to know these issues don’t happen only at GUADEC.

      • postmarketOS at Akademy 2018

        Two weeks ago was Akademy 2018, KDE’s yearly gathering to talk about and develop all things KDE. Since Plasma Mobile (which we have packaged) was of course also represented, a few members of the postmarketOS team decided to attend and meet each other for the first time! @ollieparanoid even took it upon himself to hold a talk about our project, telling everyone what it’s about and what progress has been made since the start. You can view the slides here and this blog post will be updated to include a link to the video of the talk once Akademy’s recordings are put online.

        Besides our own talk, our friend @bshah from Plasma Mobile also had a talk about the progress on running the mainline kernel rather than libhybris or Halium to achieve fully working hardware (slides are available as well). We used this oppertunity to talk with the Plasma Mobile team directly and discuss the future and exchange ideas.

        Also present was TL Lim from PINE64 who kindly offered several of us dev-kits for the Pine A64 including a touch screen, so we can develop postmarketOS on it. Watch out for a port coming to that device!

      • KDE Itinerary – Overview

        As introduced in the previous post there has been some work going on to explore a privacy-by-design alternative to digital travel assitant services like provided by Google or TripIt.

        While probably not noticed by many users, the first building blocks for this have been added in the 17.12 and 18.04 application releases already, and a lot more is coming with 18.08. The following provides an overview of the components that have been extended or created as part of this effort.

      • KDE PIM Junior Jobs are opened!

        Do you want to help us improve your favorite PIM suite but you were always scared by its size and complexity? Well, fear no more! We have collected a bunch of simple and isolated tasks in various parts of the PIM suite that require none or just very basic understanding of how the entire Kontact and Akonadi machinery works. We have documented them and we are prepared to guide you and help you to accomplish the tasks. Those are small simple tasks, but they will make many users (and PIM developers) very very happy.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GUADEC 2018

        I was a bit anxious about the travel, It was my first time flying and not only that but I had to spent the night in the Airport due to departure being at 6am. The flights went smoothly and I arrived at Málaga in the evening. Afterwards I took a bus to get to Almeria, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that other gnomies were also on board.

        [...]

        By far the thing I enjoyed the most from GUADEC was the social events. Talking with people about all sorts of thing and seeing perspectives of others from all around the world was a magical experience and though-provoking. I don’t really like going to the beach, but I loved both the beach party and the Sandcastle BoFs. The visit to the Alcazaba Castle and the Flamenco show afterwards was absolutely delightful too.

  • Distributions
    • DuZeru OS: As Easy as It Gets

      DuZeru isn’t going to blow your mind — it’s not that kind of distribution. What it does do is prove that simplicity on the desktop can go a long, long way to winning over new users. So if you’re looking for a solid and simple Linux distribution, that’s perfectly suited for new users, you should certainly consider this flavor of Linux.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Maxta Introduces A Hyperconverged Red Hat Virtualization Offering

        On August 22nd, Maxta Inc announced a pre-configured system of Red Hat Virtualization software and Maxta Hyperconvergence software bundled together on Intel Data Center Blocks hardware. Maxta specializes in hyperconverged software like this and will be demoing it next week at VMworld, booth #1518.

      • Red Hat infrastructure migration solution for proprietary and siloed infrastructure

        Red Hat recently introduced its infrastructure migration solution to help provide an open pathway to digital transformation. Red Hat infrastructure migration solution provides an enterprise-ready pathway to cloud-native application development via Linux containers, Kubernetes, automation, and other open source technologies. It helps organizations to accelerate transformation by more safely migrating and managing workload to an open source infrastructure platform, thus reducing cost and speeding innovation.

      • OVS-DPDK: Migrating to vhostuser socket mode in Red Hat OpenStack

        In the Newton release, the default vhostuser mode in Open vSwitch (OvS) is dpdkvhostuser. In Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 GA, and subsequent updates till 29th June, the default vhostuser mode is dpdkvhostuser. With the latest update to OSP10 (post 29th June 2018), the default mode has been changed to dpdkvhostuserclient. This post provides the information on vhostuser migration and verifying the vhostuser modes of the VMs created with dpdkvhostuser mode.

        In order to understand the difference between the two modes and the advantage of moving to dpdkvhostuserclient mode, read the OvS documentation onvhostuser modes. In short, vhostuser allows Qemu to fetch/put network data to OvS-DPDK without overloading Qemu with the translation. And the vhostuser socket is a UNIX domain socket, created to establish the communication between Qemu and OvS-DPDK. This communication follows a specific messaging format detailed in theQemu’s vhost user document.

      • 2018 C-Suite Award Winners (AH)
      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Flock 2018 Reflections

          Flock 2018 is going down in my books as another successful and wonderful Fedora conference! This year Flock to Fedora was held in Dresden, Germany, August 8-11th. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of this community for another year, and to have the chance to see the impact my contributions make. This year, I attended with the determination to interact more with different parts of the community outside of Fedora design. I made it my goal to liaise with people from other teams to hear their experiences, stories, and to learn how Fedora Badges could help improve each initiative and the project as a whole. Overall, I think I was successful in this venture and would like to share some of the experiences I had.

        • FPgM report: 2018-34
        • 1000 downloads of Scribus unstable in COPR Fedora 28

          What a surprise to see 1000 download of Fedora 28 repository for Scribus Unstable! Thanks a million.

        • Meet Fedora at FrOSCon 2018!
    • Debian Family
      • Debian/TeX Live updates 20180724

        Exactly one month has passed since the last TeX Live for Debian update, so here we are with the usual bunch. Besides the usual updates to macros and font packages, this time I also uploaded a new set of binaries for TeX Live which incorporates several bug fixes to programs.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, July 2018

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • Debian LTS work, July 2018
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Cosmic Cuttlefish (to be 18.10) feature freeze

            As per the release schedule, Cosmic is now in Feature Freeze.

          • Feature Development Is Over On Ubuntu 18.10

            Ubuntu 18.10 “Cosmic Cuttlefish” is now under a feature freeze to focus on bug-fixing ahead of the October debut of this next Ubuntu Linux installment.

            Developers should be now working on just fixing bugs/regressions and not new features, but feature freeze exceptions are possible in certain circumstances.

            Ubuntu developer Steve Langasek announced the start today of the feature freeze. Ubuntu 18.10 is aiming for an 18 October release and for that to be the UI freeze is coming up next on 13 September, the beta release on 27 September, and the kernel freeze on 4 October.

          • Canonical Outs Major Linux Kernel Updates for All Supported Ubuntu Releases

            Canonical released today a bunch of major Linux kernel updates for all supported Ubuntu releases to address more than 50 security vulnerabilities affecting various kernel components.

            The new kernel security updates are now available for users of the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating system series on 32-bit, 64-bit, Raspberry Pi 2, Amazon Web Services (AWS) systems, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) systems, and cloud environments.

          • Ubuntu Membership Board call for nominations

            As you may know, Ubuntu Membership is a recognition of significant and sustained contribution to Ubuntu and the Ubuntu community. To this end, the Community Council recruits from our current member community for the valuable role of reviewing and evaluating the contributions of potential members to bring them on board or assist with having them achieve this goal.

            We have five members of our boards expiring from their terms, which means we need to do some restaffing of this Membership Board.

            [...]

            To nominate yourself or somebody else (please confirm they wish to accept the nomination and state you have done so), please send a mail to the membership boards mailing list (ubuntu-membership-boards at lists.ubuntu.com). You will want to include some information about the nominee, a Launchpad profile link, and which time slot (20:00 or 22:00) the nominee will be able to participate in.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • How NFV deployments are driven by open source projects

    There is growing demand for efficient networks with low latency and high bandwidth to support innovations such as autonomous cars, connected devices, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, and real-time analytics.

    To satisfy this demand, communication service providers and telecom operators are adopting new telecom architectures enabled with software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). These systems provide faster networks, centralized control, and faster deployment of new services as network function devices turn into software packages called virtual network functions (VNFs) to reduce capital and operating expenditures. With NFV and SDN, many service providers are shifting toward multi-featured 5G networks, which are ideal for the latest technology demands.

  • Nova is an open-source video player for phones, tablets, and Android TV

    inding the perfect media player on the platform you like to enjoy watching or listening to content on can be a pain in the butt. I remember this being such a hassle on the desktop PC until VLC came around, and now most of the people in the know either use it or MPC-HC. Then people began watching more content on their smartphones, and again, it led to a huge search for the go-to application to use. For a long time, this ended up being an application called MX Player, which has been downloaded by over 500,000 million users. As people have begun to move away from MX Player, a new open-source video player has emerged and it is being called Nova.

    So you may wonder if MX Player had such a strong following then why are so many people looking for alternatives? We see this from time to time though. An application gets so big that some feel it becomes bloated with features, and some feel the updates aren’t pushed out fast enough, or a recent user update has tarnished the experience. However, in the case of Android’s most popular media player, it was actually when MX Player was all of a sudden acquired by a media giant in India. This started to worry people because once a popular application gets acquired, the parent company almost always ruins what made it so great.

  • 8 Best Kodi Live TV Addons For Streaming Live Channels | Working Addons 2018

    Kodi is one of the most popular media players mainly because of its versatility. With the help of Kodi addons, you can use the XBMC owned media player for streaming movies, music and even games. It is an open source software that is free to use, and with new Kodi repositories coming by the day, the versatility of Kodi is increasing.

  • Software freedom for the modern era

    True software freedom for this age: you can get the source code of a service you use, and can set it up on your own server. You can also get all your data from the service, and migrate it to another service (hosted by you or someone else). Futher, all of this needs to be easy, fast, and cheap enough to be feasible, and there can’t be “network effects” that lock you into a specific service instance.

  • Startup Taps into Open-Source Operating System Shift
  • Events
    • It’s The Season For A Lot Of Interesting Linux / Open-Source Conferences

      There’s been a number of recent Linux/open-source conferences but more are right on the horizon, including some with video streams for those interested.

      Earlier this month in Boston was Red Hat’s DevConf.us. If you are interested in that free Linux conference, the video sessions from there are now uploaded on YouTube.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Support Localization – Top 20 Sprint and More

        It’s time to update you about the current status of the localization clean up initiative proposed a while ago. After an initial outreach to hundreds of previously registered contributors around Mozilla, small groups of still active localizers were asked to try and reach the goal of localizing the Top 20 articles into their language.

      • This Week in Mixed Reality: Issue 17, Hubs Edition

        As I do every week, I was going to say it’s mostly be bug fixing. However this week the big news is our update to Hubs, Mozilla’s VR chat system. You can now share any kind of media within Hubs: PDFs, images, music, and even Youtube videos.

      • Bias and Hiring: How We Hire UX Researchers

        This year, the Firefox User Research team is planning to add two new researchers to our group. The job posting went live last month, and after just a few weeks of accepting applications, we had over 900 people apply.

        Current members of the Firefox User Research Team fielded dozens of messages from prospective applicants during this time, most asking for informational meetings to discuss the open role. We decided as a team to decline these requests across the board because we did not have the bandwidth for the number of meetings requested, and more importantly we have spent a significant amount of time this year working on minimizing bias in our hiring process.

        We felt that meeting with candidates outside of the formal hiring process would give unfair advantage to some candidates and undermine our de-biasing work. At the same time, in alignment with Mozilla’s values and to build on Mozilla’s diversity and inclusion disclosures from earlier this year, we realized there was an opportunity to be more transparent about our hiring process for the benefit of future job applicants and teams inside and outside Mozilla thinking about how they can minimize bias in their own hiring.

      • Skill Tree Balancing with a Job Move

        I’m moving from Research to Cloud Ops within Mozilla. The following wall of text and silly picture are a brain dump of new ideas about skills and career growth that I’ve built through the process.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • The Commons Clause – Helpful New Tool or the End of the Open Source as We Know it?

      Almost nothing inspires a spirited discussion among the open source faithful as much as introducing a new open source license, or a major change in an existing license’s terms. In the case of version 3 of the GPL, the update process took years and involved dozens of lawyers in addition to community members. So, it’s no surprise that the pot is already boiling over something called the “Commons Clause.” How energetically? Well, one blog entry posted yesterday was titled The Commons Clause Will Destroy Open Source. The spark that turned up the heat was the announcement the same day by RedisLabs that it was adopting the license language.

      The clause itself is short (you can find it here, together with an explanatory FAQ). It was drafted by Heather Meeker, an attorney with long open source involvement, in conjunction with “a group of developers behind many of the world’s most popular open source projects.”

      It’s also simple in concept: basically, it gives a developer the right to make sure no one can make money out of her code – whether by selling, hosting, or supporting it – unless the Commons Clause code is a minor part of a larger software product. In one way, that’s in the spirit of a copyleft license (i.e., a prohibition on commercial interests taking advantage of a programmer’s willingness to make her code available for free), but it also violates the “Four Freedoms” of Free and Open Source software as well as the Open Source Definition by placing restrictions on reuse, among other issues.

    • Complicating Licensing

      I’ve recently seen a couple of attempts to present non-open source licensing as almost open source. What I’m talking about is Commons Clause and fair source. This sounds a lot like the failed shared source model promoted by companies such as Microsoft in the early 2000. Yes, I’m looking at you redis and neo4j.

      What I find particularly disturbing is the way that both, but especially Commons Clause, attempts to piggyback on the good name of open source. The naming is very close to Creative Commons, and the way that the clause is intended to be introduced is very confusing for the user as the user would see a familiar open source license, and then just a “small” exception.

      I would argue that the way to go about this is to combine a strong copyleft license such as GPLv3, LGPLv3 or AGPLv3, with a CLA. That way a dual licensing model could be used to create a business model. If that is not possible, the [A/L]GPLv3 needs to be improved – not complicated by additional clauses added by a third party.

  • BSD
    • OpenSSH 7.8 released

      OpenSSH 7.8 is out. It includes a fix for the username enumeration vulnerability; additionally, the default format for the private key file has changed, support for running ssh setuid root has been removed, a couple of new signature algorithms have been added, and more.

    • OpenBSD Foundation gets first 2018 Iridium donation!

      This year the first $100K+ donation came from Handshake (https://www.handshake.org).

    • Remote Access Console using Raspberry Pi 3b+ and FreeBSD

      I have a small homelab and I was looking into some sort of KVM console to be able to access them both locally and remotely instead of moving around VGA cables/serial cables.

      Those are rather expensive so I opted to build my own remote access system. Since all my servers and switch(es) have a serial console that should not be to hard.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Deutsche Bahn Intercity software under EUPL

      This software, distributed under the EUPL, is the open European Train Control System (OpenETCS), the signalling and control component of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). It is kind of positive train control, replacing the many incompatible safety systems previously used by European railways. It is becoming a standard that was also adopted outside Europe and is an option for worldwide application. It is managed by the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) and it is a legal requirement that all new, upgraded or renewed tracks and rolling stock in the European railway system should adopt it, possibly keeping legacy systems for backward compatibility

  • Programming/Development
    • Go 1.11 is released

      Who says releasing on Friday is a bad idea?

      Today the Go team is happy to announce the release of Go 1.11. You can get it from the download page.

      There are many changes and improvements to the toolchain, runtime, and libraries, but two features stand out as being especially exciting: modules and WebAssembly support.

      This release adds preliminary support for a new concept called “modules,” an alternative to GOPATH with integrated support for versioning and package distribution. Module support is considered experimental, and there are still a few rough edges to smooth out, so please make liberal use of the issue tracker.

    • Go 1.11 Released With WebAssembly Port, Assembler Accepting AVX-512 Instructions

      Version 1.11 of the Go programming language is out this Friday as the newest feature update.

    • Project Template for Bison and Flex
    • littler 0.3.4: More updated examples

      The fifth release of littler as a CRAN package is now available, following in the now more than ten-year history as a package started by Jeff in 2006, and joined by me a few weeks later.

      littler is the first command-line interface for R and predates Rscript. And it is (in my very biased eyes) better as it allows for piping as well shebang scripting via #!, uses command-line arguments more consistently and still starts faster. It also always loaded the methods package which Rscript converted to rather recently.

      littler lives on Linux and Unix, has its difficulties on macOS due to yet-another-braindeadedness there (who ever thought case-insensitive filesystems as a default where a good idea?) and simply does not exist on Windows (yet — the build system could be extended — see RInside for an existence proof, and volunteers are welcome!).

    • LLVM 7.0 RC2 Along With The Updated Clang Can Be Tested This Weekend

      LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg tagged the second release candidate this week of LLVM and its associated sub-projects like Clang.

      LLVM 7.0-RC2 has seen “a bunch of merges” for fixing the initial fall-out from the past six months worth of development on this compiler stack. Several bugs were fixed in the process. At least from some recent tests I did on the branched LLVM/Clang 7.0 code, it’s been working out great on several Linux x86_64 boxes.

Leftovers
  • Triumph Of Greed Over Arithmetic

    It gets worse. S3 is by no means the low-cost provider in the storage market. If we assume that the competition is Backblaze’s B2 service at $0.06/GB/yr and that their Kryder rate is zero, FileCoin would need to store 428PB for 10 years before breaking even. Nearly half an Exabyte for a decade!

  • Science
    • Kids are glued to their screens – but parents are in no position to criticize

      And more than half of teens said they often or sometimes find their parents or caregivers to be distracted by their electronic devices when the youngsters are trying to have a conversation with them. The study calls teens’ relationship with their phones at times “hyperconnected” and notes that nearly three-quarters check messages or notifications as soon as they wake up. Parents do the same, but at a lower, if still substantial, rate of 57%.

  • Hardware
    • [Old] Intel settlement: The power of email

      Intel’s rebate payments to Dell maxed out that fiscal quarter, February to April 2006, at $805 million, according to the Cuomo complaint. That figure represented 104% of Dell’s net income for the quarter. (Do these sound like traditional, volume discounts to you, reader?) Nevertheless, Dell capitulated in May and announced plans to introduce one line of AMD-powered servers. Intel’s payments to Dell that quarter dropped to $554 million (which, nevertheless, constituted 116% of Dell’s quarterly net). In August 2006, Dell actually started shipping AMD-powered servers, and in September it unveiled plans to introduce other AMD-powered lines of PCs. The next quarter, its rebate dropped to $200 million.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Dominican Republic Appeals WTO Plain Packaging Decision

      The Dominican Republic has followed Honduras in appealing a decision by a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel that found Australia’s tobacco plain packaging law to be allowable under WTO rules. Cuba and Indonesia also had cases against Australia but so far have not appealed.

      The details of the Dominican Republic’s appeal are not yet available from the WTO, and are expected in the coming days. The appeal, WT/DS441/23, will be found here when available.

      The tobacco-producing Caribbean nation had filed a WTO case against Australia in July 2012, and focused on alleged trademark and geographical indications violations. The original filing, WT/DS441/1, is available here.

  • Security
    • Intel ditches Linux patch benchmark ‘gag’, offers ‘innocuous’ new license

      Intel has ditched a controversial licensing agreement that appeared aimed at legally preventing developers from publishing benchmark results that could reveal performance slowdowns caused by its recent security patches.

      As ZDNet reported yesterday, the chip maker was criticized by open-source champion Bruce Perens for slipping new restrictions into the software agreement for maintainers of Linux distributions such as Debian and Ubuntu.

      The changes in license terms came with microcode updates to mitigate Spectre and Foreshadow, or L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF), speculative attacks.

    • No, a Teen Did Not Hack a State Election

      Headlines from Def Con, a hacking conference held this month in Las Vegas, might have left some thinking that infiltrating state election websites and affecting the 2018 midterm results would be child’s play.

      Articles reported that teenage hackers at the event were able to “crash the upcoming midterm elections” and that it had taken “an 11-year-old hacker just 10 minutes to change election results.” A first-person account by a 17-year-old in Politico Magazine described how he shut down a website that would tally votes in November, “bringing the election to a screeching halt.”

      But now, elections experts are raising concerns that misunderstandings about the event — many of them stoked by its organizers — have left people with a distorted sense of its implications.

      In a website published before r00tz Asylum, the youth section of Def Con, organizers indicated that students would attempt to hack exact duplicates of state election websites, referring to them as “replicas” or “exact clones.” (The language was scaled back after the conference to simply say “clones.”)

    • If It Doesn’t Have Paper Backups and Automatic Audits, It’s Not an Election Security Bill

      Right now, the U.S. Senate is debating an issue that’s critical to our democratic future: secure elections. Hacking attacks were used to try to undermine the 2016 U.S. election, and in recent years, elections in Latin America and Ukraine were also subject to cyber attacks.

      It only makes sense to harden the security of U.S. voting machines, which are perhaps the most direct route to impacting an election’s results. But the current bill that’s advancing in the Senate, the Secure Elections Act, is no solution at all. If it isn’t strengthened dramatically, senators should vote against this deeply flawed bill.

      The best solution to stop a possible hack of voting machines is clear: all machines must use a paper trail that’s regularly audited. Many states with voting machines already use paper, but more than a dozen are using at least some machines that provide no paper trail. In five states—New Jersey, Delaware, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana—not a single jurisdiction has a paper trail.

    • OpenBSD Co-Founder Drops Hyper-Threading Support to Mitigate Foreshadow Attacks

      Theo de Raadt, an OpenBSD co-founder has officially announced that the open-source operating system will not utilize Hyper-threading for Intel processors. He complains that Intel isn’t telling them about upcoming discovered threats and the steps that an OS developer needs to take to mitigate against TLBleed and T1TF; otherwise known as “Foreshadow.” He has dropped support for older versions of OpenBSD and asks users to upgrade to version 6.4 as he doesn’t have the manpower to backport the changes.

    • Intel Hyper-Threading Accused of Being a Security Threat

      Following the reveal of the Foreshadow (L1TF) Intel CPU flaw, as well as the previous TLBleed flaw, Theo de Raadt, founder of OpenBSD, which makes a free, multi-platform, UNIX-like operating system, recommended everyone completely disable Intel’s Hyper-Threading in BIOS before hackers start taking advantage of it.

      [...]

      We’ve seen over the past few months that the Meltdown and Spectre flaws were not a one-time vulnerability that we could patch once and then forget about. Multiple Spectre-like speculative execution flaws have been found since Meltdown and Spectre was revealed earlier this year, and chances are we’ll continue to see more of them until the entire class of speculative execution bugs are fixed at the CPU architecture level.

      de Raadt also believes that Hyper-Threading itself will exacerbate most of the speculative execution bugs in the future, which is why now is the best time to disable it. He also recommended updating your BIOS firmware if you can.

      The OpenBSD founder criticized Intel over not being very transparent about how it intends to fix these speculative execution flaws once and for all and also about not properly documenting which operating systems are supposed to do to mitigate these bugs. The OpenBSD team had to learn how to research and develop their own mitigations based on what other operating systems were doing without much help from Intel.

    • Intel Reworks Microcode Security Fix License after Backlash, Intel’s FSP Binaries Also Re-licensed, Valve Releases Beta of Steam Play for Linux, Chromebooks Running Linux 3.4 or Older Won’t Get Linux App Support and Windows 95 Now an App
    • T-Mobile Hacked Again: Over 2 Millions Account Numbers and Addresses Potentially Leaked

      Attackers may have compromised three percent of T-Mobile’s 77 million customers on Monday, revealing personal information like addresses, phone numbers, and account numbers.

      Credit cards, passwords, and social security numbers were not accessed, according to T-Mobile. The company will notify affected customers via text message.

    • T-Mobile hack may have exposed data of 2 million customers

      T-Mobile has revealed that hackers may have stolen the personal information of some of its customers.

      The intrusion took place on Monday, and some customer data “may have been exposed” before the carrier’s cybersecurity team shut off access and reported the breach to law enforcement, it said in a statement.

    • Securing google-authenticator-libpam against reading secrets

      I have recently worked on enabling 2-step authentication via SSH on the Gentoo developer machine. I have selected google-authenticator-libpam amongst different available implementations as it seemed the best maintained and having all the necessary features, including a friendly tool for users to configure it. However, its design has a weakness: it stores the secret unprotected in user’s home directory.

      This means that if an attacker manages to gain at least temporary access to the filesystem with user’s privileges — through a malicious process, vulnerability or simply because someone left the computer unattended for a minute — he can trivially read the secret and therefore clone the token source without leaving a trace. It would completely defeat the purpose of the second step, and the user may not even notice until the attacker makes real use of the stolen secret.

    • A Rant on Single Function Security Tools
    • Mirai Variant Cross-Compiles Attack Code with Aboriginal Linux [Ed: This malware relies on systems being compromised in the first place, e.g. due to default password that's uniform]
    • Mirai IoT Malware Variant Abuses Linux Cross-Compilation Framework
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Zimbabwe ambassador to Senegal found dead in Dakar

      Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Senegal and The Gambia, Trudy Stevenson, has been found dead in Dakar on Friday.

      The 73-year-old diplomat was reportedly discovered at her residence by her chauffeur when he reported for duty.

      The Zimbabwean foreign affairs and international trade ministry confirmed the death of the diplomat, but could not shed more light, saying government was yet to talk to the family.

      “It is true Ms Stevenson has passed, but we are yet to get in contact with all the relatives,” an official in the ministry said.

    • Zim ambassador to Senegal found dead in Dakar
    • US Military Admits It Killed Dozens More Civilians Than Previously Acknowledged. Now What?

      In June and July, the US-led Coalition of countries fighting the armed group calling itself the Islamic State admitted that reports of civilian casualties it had previously dismissed as “not credible” were, in fact, correct: in its assault on Raqqa, Syria, last year, Coalition forces had killed at least 77 civilians, as documented earlier this year by Amnesty International. The Coalition also acknowledged that an attack on a school near Raqqa had likewise killed dozens of civilians, as documented by Human Rights Watch – a claim also previously dismissed as “not credible.”

      This grim news represents a step forward of sorts for the Coalition. Previous reports of civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. or Coalition forces by Amnesty, the United Nations and other human rights organizations had been dismissed out of hand. When Amnesty, where I work, reported on civilians killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, for example, we received no response at all. That may have been because the government would not even acknowledge it had engaged in drone strikes in the country—regardless, it left deaths publicly uncounted.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Reality Winner Will Spend Five Years In Jail For Leaking Info Government Officials Released Publicly

      This is the longest sentence ever imposed under the Espionage Act. And it’s being imposed for a leaked document confirming much of what had been been discussed publicly by intelligence officials: that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. Winner will spend five years in jail for leaking information other government officials have published in full.

      Espionage charges are easy to prosecute. The defendant’s options are limited. They’re unable to raise defenses about serving the public interest or acting as whistleblowers. This was document turned over to a media agency. This was not a document detailing crucial national security matters being handed to agents of an unfriendly government.

      Winner isn’t a martyr, but neither is she the despicable villain portrayed in the DOJ’s official statement on its easy win. Twice the statement reminds us her act was not a “victimless crime.” In case we’re unable to get the point, it’s delivered in all caps once. Bold print highlights various incidentals the US Attorney thinks are particularly nefarious — like Winner KNOWINGLY disseminating a document with TOP SECRET printed across the top of it even though it EXPOSED SOURCES AND METHODS and it will apparently take the US intelligence community years to recover.

    • Former MI6 spy v WikiLeaks editor: Who really deserves 1st Amendment protection?

      If ‘Dirty Dossier’ author Christopher Steele deserves protection under the 1st Amendment but WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange doesn’t, then the concept of a free press is merely a distant memory.
      While it is all too easy to become frustrated and annoyed by what passes for news in the legacy media these days, this article in the Daily Mail did arouse my particular ire earlier this week – and in this instance no particular blame attaches to the newspaper, it is simply reporting some unpalatable facts.

      The gist of it is that former British MI6 intelligence officer and current mercenary spy-for-hire, Christopher Steele, author of the discredited ‘Dirty Dossier’ about Donald Trump, has been accorded First Amendment rights in a court case in the USA.

      You might wonder why this article caused me so much spluttering annoyance over my breakfast? Steele’s treatment is in marked contrast to that accorded to WikiLeaks Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Julian Assange, and the hypocrisy is breathtaking. Allow me to expound.

    • Julian Assange and the Fate of Journalism

      Julian Assange is the Australian founder of Wikileaks—a website dedicated to the public’s right to know what governments and other powerful organizations are doing. Wikileaks pursues this goal by posting revelatory documents, often acquired unofficially, that bring to light the criminal behavior that results in wars and other man-made disasters. Because Wikileaks’ very existence encourages “leaks,” government officials fear the website, and particularly dislike Julian Assange.

      Essentially, Wikileaks functions as a wholesale supplier of evidence. Having identified alleged official misconduct, Wikileaks seeks to acquire and make public overwhelming amounts of evidence—sometimes hundreds of thousands of documents at a time—which journalists and other interested parties can draw upon. And since the individuals and organizations being investigated are ones ultimately responsible to the public, such a role as wholesale supplier of evidence can be seen as a public service.

    • Ecuador leaves Venezuelan-run regional alliance

      Ecuador has withdrawn from a regional bloc led by Venezuela in a bid to further distance itself from that country’s socialist government.

      Foreign minister Jose Valencia said on Thursday that Ecuador has decided to abandon the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA, immediately because Ecuador wants to be “independent” of organizations that are trying to impose “specific views” on Latin America’s social and political issues.

      ALBA was created in 2004 by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a bid to counter U.S. influence in the region. It currently has 12 members that include Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba and several small Caribbean islands.

    • Let a hundred WikiLeaks blossom

      When WikiLeaks exploded onto the scene a decade ago, it briefly seemed like the internet could create a truly open society. Since then, Big Brother has fought back.

      Every day now, we hear complaints about the growing control of digital media, often from people who apparently believe the concept was originally an unregulated free-for-all.

      However, let’s remember the origin of internet. Back in the 1960s, the US Army was thinking about how to maintain communications among surviving units in the event that a global nuclear war destroyed central command. Eventually, the idea emerged of laterally connecting these dispersed units, bypassing the (destroyed) center.

      Thus, from the very beginning, the internet contained a democratic potential since it allowed multiple direct exchanges between individual units, bypassing central control and coordination – and this inherent feature presented a threat for those in power. As a result, their principle reaction was to control the digital “clouds” that mediate communication between individuals.

      “Clouds” in all their forms are, of course, presented to us as facilitators of our freedom. After all, they make it possible for me to sit in front of my PC and freely surf with everything out there at our disposal – or so it seems on the surface. Nevertheless, those who control the clouds also control the limits of our freedom.

      [...]

      But my point here is that I was repeatedly attacked for my report on this case: the reproach was that by describing the case I reproduced it and thus repeated it symbolically. Although, I shared it with strong disapproval, I allegedly secretly enabled my listeners to find perverse pleasure in it.

      And these attacks on me exemplify nicely the “politically correct” need to protect people from traumatic or disturbing news and images. My counterpoint to it is that, in order to fight such crimes, one has to present them in all their horror, and one has to be shocked by them.

    • Reality Winner could get record-setting sentence in NSA leak case

      Reality Winner, who pleaded guilty in June to leaking a top-secret government report about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, could receive a record-setting prison term when she is sentenced in a federal court in Augusta Thursday, court records show.

      The former National Security Agency contractor faces up to 10 years in prison. But her plea deal with prosecutors calls for her to serve five years and three months behind bars. That is longer than anyone else has been sentenced for an “unauthorized disclosure to the media,” federal prosecutors said in a court filing this month.

      The prosecutors are urging Chief U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall to agree to the sentence spelled out in her plea deal. If the judge instead moves to give her a longer sentence, Winner, 26, could withdraw her guilty plea and go to trial.

  • Finance
    • Farmer shows ubuntu, gives land to his workers

      Colin Forbes also provided mentorship and resources, including supplying them with the initial seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and diesel to operate machinery.

      In the small town of Amsterdam in Mpumalanga, a community of farm workers are finally building brick houses for themselves after farm owner Colin Forbes gave a portion of his land to his employees.

      Forbes’ family has owned Athole Farm in the small town near the Swaziland border since 1860.

      Seven years ago, he followed his father’s idea of showing humanity to their workers by giving away 10% of the farm to them.

    • Bad News for Donald Trump, China is Already Bigger Than the United States

      Actually, China’s economy is already considerably bigger than the US economy. Using the purchasing power parity measure, which is recommended by most economists and the CIA World Factbook, China’s economy is already more than 25 percent larger than the US economy. It is also worth noting that there are no growth projections from any remotely reputable source that show the US economy growing more rapidly than China’s economy.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Why Manafort and Cohen Thought They’d Get Away With It

      Oh, the audacity of dopes. The crimes of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are notable not just for how blatant they were but also for their lack of sophistication. The two men did little to hide their lying to banks and the Internal Revenue Service. One can almost sympathize with them: If it wasn’t for their decision to attach themselves to the most unlikely president in modern history, there’s every reason to think they might be still working their frauds today.

      But how anomalous are Mssrs. Manafort and Cohen? Are there legions of K Street big shots working for foreign despots and parking their riches in Cypriot bank accounts to avoid the IRS? Are many political campaigns walking felonies waiting to be exposed? What about the world of luxury residential building in which Cohen plied his trade with the Trump Organization?

      The answer is more disturbing than the questions: We don’t know. We don’t know because the cops aren’t on the beat. Resources have been stripped from white-collar enforcement. The FBI shifted agents to work on international terror in the wake of 9/11. White-collar cases made up about one-tenth of the Justice Department’s cases in recent years, compared with one-fifth in the early 1990s. The IRS’ criminal enforcement capabilities have been decimated by years of budget cuts and attrition. The Federal Election Commission is a toothless organization that is widely flouted.

      No wonder Cohen and Manafort were so brazen. They must have felt they had impunity.

    • Do NOT Let Them Make A Saint Of This Asshole

      John McCain’s family has announced that the Arizona Senator has opted to end treatment for brain cancer and live out his final few days in peace, presumably under the best hospice care money can buy. And I sincerely hope that it is peaceful. My statements about my desire for John McCain to shuffle off this mortal coil sooner rather than later have been highly publicized, and I stand by all of them, but I don’t wish him a painful or agitated end.

      And, also, I am going to keep hammering on how very important it is that we refuse to bow to the aggressive demands from establishment loyalists that we be respectful of this warmongering psychopath and his blood-soaked legacy.

      [...]

      One of the most aggressively protected narratives in corporate liberal circles is that John McCain is a hero whose very name should be uttered with the greatest reverence. It gets traction with rank-and-file Democrats because supporting McCain for his opposition to Trump allows them to feel as though they are non-partisan free thinkers, in exactly the same way Trump supporters believe their hatred of McCain makes them non-partisan free thinkers. In reality, McCain is just one of the many bloodthirsty neocons like Bill Kristol and Max Boot who have aligned themselves with the Democratic party in recent years in order to better advance their warmongering agendas.

      It is those agendas that are being promoted with the hero worship of John McCain. By committing the outrageous heresy of mocking, ridiculing and scorning that sacred cow, we are fighting the attempts of the empire loyalists and war propagandists to normalize and sanctify the act of inflicting neoconservative military bloodbaths upon innocent people around the world.

    • Mystery group blankets Michigan seeking ballots from 2016 election

      Clerks around the state are getting blanketed with requests to turn over every ballot cast in the 2016 election, as they try to recover from record turnouts in the August primary and prepare for November.

      The new challenge comes compliments of a woman named “Emily” with no last name.

      Nearly every clerk in Michigan has received Freedom of Information Act requests signed by Emily asking for copies of every ballot cast in the 2016 presidential election — whether at the polls or by absentee ballot. Voter signature cards have even been sought.

      “It’s unnerved a lot of the clerks, rightfully so,” Michigan Director of Elections Sally Williams said Friday.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • New York State Can’t Be Allowed to Stifle the NRA’s Political Speech

      The First Amendment bars state officials from using their regulatory power to penalize groups merely because they promote disapproved ideas.

      It’s no secret that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is no fan of the National Rifle Association. A mailer his campaign sent to New York voters this week proclaims, in bold letters: “If the NRA goes bankrupt, I will remember them in my thoughts and prayers.”

      There’s nothing wrong with the governor singling out a political adversary for criticism, or even mockery. That’s just politics, and the NRA itself is no stranger to hardball tactics.

      But in a lawsuit the NRA filed against Cuomo this spring, the organization contends that he did more than criticize it. The NRA alleges that Cuomo and top members of his administration abused their regulatory authority over financial institutions to threaten New York banks and insurers that associate with the NRA or other “gun promotion” groups, and that those threats have jeopardized the NRA’s access to basic insurance and banking services in New York.

      In the ACLU’s view, targeting a nonprofit advocacy group and seeking to deny it financial services because it promotes a lawful activity (the use of guns) violates the First Amendment. Because we believe the governor’s actions, as alleged, threaten the First Amendment rights of all advocacy organizations, the ACLU on Friday filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the NRA’s right to have its day in court.

    • Post Valve’s ‘Hands Off’ Games Curation Announcement, Everything Is A Mess

      Back in June we discussed Valve’s somewhat odd announcement that it was getting out of the games curation business, and opening its platform to what it said would be far more games. The restrictions on what type of content would now be allowed on the gaming platform was said to mostly be limited only to games that are “trolling” or “illegal.” As with all things Valve, this apparent announcement aimed at transparency and making sure developers knew what expectations Valve had for games on Steam mostly achieved the exact opposite, with everyone wondering immediately what qualified as “trolling.” Nobody could really agree on where exactly Valve would be drawing the lines on the types of content it would allow. That said, most people, including most of the participants of the podcast we conducted on the topic, essentially agreed that this would chiefly allow more games with sexual content onto the platform.

      And, yet, it seems that even that hasn’t been true thus far. Kotaku has a post up discussing the many, many sexuality related games that had been disallowed from Steam, but which were gearing up to be included based on the new policy. It seems the policy hasn’t opened up the platform to many of them after all.

    • Trump’s Anti-press Rhetoric Is Dangerous, But His Actions Are Worse

      In a coordinated response to Trump’s incessant attacks on the press, more than 300 news organizations joined together last week and published editorials about the important role of a free press.

      The effort is led by the Boston Globe, who called for editorial boards of publications across the country to publish their own editorials defending—in their own words—the importance of press freedom. Participating publications include outlets big and small, from the New York Times to small, local, and independent papers.

      Trump has called the press “enemy of the American people,” and said that journalists “don’t like our country.” He responded to the editorials in a predictably petty manner. He has also vowed to revoke broadcast licenses over coverage he didn’t like, and has threatened to sue critical news organizations and journalists. And, of course, he engages in constant Twitter diatribes about “fake news.”

      The president’s verbal attacks on the press are certainly appalling, but his rhetoric gets an outsized amount of attention, when his administration’s actions against press are much worse. They deserve just as much condemnation as his tweets.

    • Dubious Studies And Easy Headlines: No, A New Report Does Not Clearly Show Facebook Leads To Hate Crimes

      Those are some fairly bold claims, and certainly worth exploring. However, it’s not exactly clear that the paper actually can support such claims. You can download a copy of the 75 page paper yourself, entitled Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime by two PhD students, Karsten Müller and Carlo Schwarz, both from the University of Warwick. For what it’s worth, people have pointed out that this paper has not yet been peer reviewed, and an earlier version of this paper got some less breathless press coverage a few months ago. But, the NY Times is the NY Times.

      The paper definitely presents some interesting data, and it should be applauded that researchers are exploring these issues — though separating out the actual causal variables seems like a difficult task. The researchers do appear to have fairly thorough data on anti-refugee attacks throughout Germany. The Facebook data, however, seems a lot less solid. A few people have been breaking down the problems with the study online, including Jonas Kaiser, Dean Eckles and Hal Hodson, who all convincingly argue that the NY Times is overplaying what the study actually shows.

      Before I dig in a bit, I should note that part of the problem here is that the necessary Facebook data to do this kind of study is hard to come by. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would be giving some academics access to data in order to do just this kind of research (though more focused on election impact, but this should be similar). And, it would be damn helpful if Facebook were willing to give out the kind of data needed in order to actually do the kind of study that was presented in this paper.

    • Today In Useless Surveys: Some People Want Internet Companies To Stop Filtering News And Some Don’t.

      Sometimes public sentiment is useful. And sometimes it’s only useful in demonstrating how little the general public understands some issues. It would appear that a new survey done by the Knight Foundation about how the internet giants should handle “news” content is one of the latter ones. While there’s lots of discussion about what the poll results “say,” the only thing they really say is that the public has no clue about how the internet and news works — and that should be the focus. We need much greater tech and media literacy. Unfortunately, the poll seems more likely to do the opposite.

      [...]

      There’s a little bit more of a discussion about the breakdown based on age, but there is no discussion of what the fuck this even means — because it means literally nothing. What “regulations” do newspapers and broadcast news face? Well, not much? But, it really kind of depends. Broadcast news may face some FCC regulations because they use the public airwaves. But newspapers don’t. And internet sites don’t. Because they don’t use the public airwaves. Other than that, they already face the same basic “rules and regulations.” So it’s not at all clear how — as a bunch of people have claimed — this study supports the idea for “increased” regulation of internet sites.

      Honestly, this feels like a kind of push poll and it’s kind of shameful that the Knight Foundation and Gallup — both of which should know better — would do such a thing. After asking all these random amorphous meaningless questions about internet platforms, they then jump in with a question about regulating the platforms without defining or clarifying what regulations they’re even talking about, in an area where the vast majority of the public will have literally no idea what those limited regulations are? What good is that other than to just get people to say “sure, they should all be on an equal footing.”

    • More Student Press Censorship Alleged at Liberty

      Officials at Liberty University fired two student editors with a history of mixed coverage from the institution’s newspaper, the second occasion in which the religious university has come under fire for press censorship.

      [...]

      Liberty is led by President Jerry Falwell Jr., who was criticized in 2016 after he stopped The Champion from publishing a column that slammed then candidate Donald Trump for remarks on the notorious leaked Access Hollywood recording. Falwell, a vocal Trump supporter, said the column was “redundant,” as the newspaper had just run a piece about Trump.

      Suppression of student press at religious institutions is well documented. A group of student journalists at Taylor University in Indiana surveyed student reporters at religious colleges and universities and found widespread reports of censorship.

    • Free Speech in Peril as #Resistance Hero John Brennan Loses Security Clearance

      After President Donald Trump revoked his security clearance last week, John Brennan arose as a Hero of Free Speech. On Twitter he announced in terms designed to stir the corpses of the Founding Fathers “This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.” Twelve former senior intelligence officials agree, calling Trump’s revocation “an attempt to stifle free speech.”

      No less than Ben Wizner, a director at the ACLU, stated “The First Amendment does not permit the president to revoke security clearances to punish his critics.” Even Republicans like Bob Corker, the retiring Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair said “It just feels like sort of a… banana republic kind of thing.” For emphasis, Corker also said the revocation was the kind of thing that might happen in Venezuela. Referring to a list of other former Obama officials whose clearances Trump may revoke, Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said “It was almost… a Nixonian enemies list.” Admiral William McRaven, former SEAL and bin Laden killing superhero said of Trump’s revocation “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children.” A letter to the New York Times demanded a military coup to end Trump’s reign.

      [...]

      Is it all political? Sure. What was the point of Brennan, or other Obama-era officials unlikely to be consulted by the Trump administration, of having clearances that outlived their government tenure anyway? Brennan in particular was using his security clearance to monetize his experience, and to bolster his opinions with the tang of inside knowledge. There is no government interest in any of that, and the government has no place allowing Brennan to hold a clearance for his own profit. Shutting him down preserves the whole point of issuing anyone a clearance, granting them access to America’s secrets so that they can do Uncle Sam’s work. A clearance isn’t a gift, it’s a tool issued by the government to allow employees to get some work done. Brennan is working now only for himself, and deserved to lose his clearance.

    • Arrow season 7 is so violent that it’s testing The CW’s censorship limits

      We already know that Stephen Amell has had, in his words, “the shit kicked out” of him thanks to Arrow’s gritty seventh season. But we didn’t realise just how violent the show is set to be.

      Revealing just how far Arrow is pushing the boundaries ahead of its return, the series’ long-time stunt coordinator James Bamford recently admitted they’re trying their best to reach the limit.

      Talking about an unprecedented phone call Bamford and showrunner Beth Schwartz had with the show’s censors, the stuntman told Newsarama: “We are really trying to push the limits on the show in the gritty factor.

    • Music censorship in Northern Nigeria

      In Northern Nigeria, music has long been used as a tool for social criticism: a powerful means of speaking out against tyranny, corruption and oppression. However, artists who attempt to use their music to convey socio-political messages often find themselves the victims of censorship and other forms of official reprimand. This article provides an overview of censorship in Northern Nigerian music.

      [...]

      The most radical form of censorship in the region has stemmed from the introduction, in 1999, of Islamic sharia law in states with dominant Muslim populations, such as Zamfara, Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kebbi and Yobe. In these states, sharia is used to outlaw sensual and vulgar musical content. The Kano State Censorship Board (KSCB), arguably the most visible censorship body in Northern Nigeria, was established in 2001. Since its founding, it has faced allegations of intimidation and arrests within Kano, prompting an exodus of artists to neighbouring states perceived to be more liberal and friendlier to their craft.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Android Collects 10x Data Than Apple iOS When Idle: Report

      A new study has surfaced that says Google collects way more data from Android than Apple does through iOS. Most of the data taken into account is collected through passive means, i.e., when the Android device is idle or stationary. But Google captures a lot of data while the device is being used as well.

    • Google Tracks Users In Incognito Mode Too, Study Suggests

      If you think that using incognito mode in Chrome would really hide your footprints, you are in for a shock. A new report says that user-anonymous identifiers are collected while browsing in private mode and Google has the ability to connect this information to your Google Account.

      Let’s say you open up a private browser session in Chrome. Websites that run Google ads automatically send anonymized cookies to the browser associated with the user.

    • Sydney airport seizure of phone and laptop ‘alarming’, say privacy groups

      A British-Australian citizen travelling through Sydney airport has had his devices seized, and believes his laptop password cracked and his digital files inspected by Border Force officers, in what privacy groups say is a worrying development.

      Nathan Hague, a 46-year-old software developer, was detained apparently at random for 90 minutes while the officers took his phone and password-protected laptop into a back room.

      Hague said the officers refused to tell him what would be done with his devices, why they were being inspected or whether his digital data was being copied and stored.

    • Appeals Court: City-Owned Utility Pulling Electric Use Info Every 15 Minutes Is A Search

      An oddball, but interesting, decision [PDF] flowing from the Supreme Court’s Carpenter ruling has been issued by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. While the Carpenter decision centered on the long term collection of historic cell site location information, the ruling could be applied to a number of situations where records created by citizens are stored and housed by other parties and accessible without a warrant.

      This case deals with smart meters, issued by the government (via the public electric utility) to track electric use in citizens’ homes. With the old meters, readings were performed by utility employees every few weeks. The new smart meters send back info on electric use every fifteen minutes. This frequency was chosen by the City of Naperville government. It could have gone with something less intrusive, but it chose this method instead.

      The city was sued by citizens opposed to being snooped on by the new smart meters. The plaintiffs argued the frequent readings allowed to government to make a great deal of inferences about activities inside citizens’ homes, based on the rolling delivery of energy use amounts. The district court tossed the case. So does the Appeals Court, but only after making some interesting findings. (via Orin Kerr/Volokh Conspiracy)

      First, the court rules that the government’s use of smart meters to retrieve information about electric usage is actually a search under the Fourth Amendment. To do that, it looks to the Supreme Court’s Kyllo decision, which dealt with the warrantless deployment of thermal imaging scanners by law enforcement. That decision found deployment to be a search, even if officers never physically entered the residences being scanned. Enough could be inferred about inside activity from the thermal images to be considered a search under the Fourth Amendment. The Appeals Court says the same rationale applies here.

    • Facebook’s ‘Privacy Protecting’ VPN Booted From Apple Store For Snooping Too Much

      Back in February we noted how Facebook had launched a new security tool the company promised would “help keep you and your data safe when you browse and share information on the web.” The product was effectively just reconstituted version of the Onavo VPN the company acquired back in 2013. We also noted how some reports were quick to point out that instead of making Facebook users’ data more private and secure, Facebook used the VPN to track users around the internet — specifically what users were doing when they visited other platforms and services.

      [...]

      Admittedly, Apple’s app store approval process is certainly its own type of terrible. But the report notes that Apple demanded that Facebook “voluntarily” remove the app, and Facebook complied. As such, iOS users can no longer download the app, and users that have already installed it will no longer receive updates for it. It is, however, still available over at the Google Play store, if giving Facebook even greater insight into your online activity is a prospect that excites you.

      The whole kerfuffle only punctuated our repeated point that VPN’s aren’t some kind of mystical privacy panacea. In the wake of the GOP killing broadband privacy rules and the myriad other privacy and hacking scandals, countless people have been flocking to VPNs under the mistaken belief that a VPN is some kind of silver bullet. But a VPN is only as good as the people running it on the other end. And if the people on the other end are running scams or lying about what data is collected and stored (which is incredibly common in the VPN realm) you’re not a whole lot better off.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • ‘My Son is Traumatized’: One Separated Family’s Reunion

      The reunion offers a window into what medical experts warned: For children, the trauma of separation can linger far past reunion.

      Inside a Texas detention center, 3-year-old Sammy* was asleep next to his father, Ever Reyes-Mejia, on the ground with a tin foil emergency blanket when an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official told Ever that he needed to go see an immigration judge and fill out some paperwork. Ever asked whether he should leave his son asleep and was told that he would return shortly and there was no need to wake him.

      That was the last time Ever saw his son before ICE took Sammy across the country to Bethany Christian Services, a foster care agency in Michigan.

      Fleeing violence in Honduras, Ever and Sammy came to the United States in April 2018 seeking asylum, presenting themselves to immigration authorities at the McAllen Bridge in Texas. They were two of the thousands of parents and children who were forcibly separated under the Trump administration’s family separation policy. Ever and Sammy were separated for almost three and half months. During that time, Sammy was so upset that he refused to speak to his father on the phone.

      On June 26, a federal judge, ruling in the ACLU’s class-action lawsuit, ordered the U.S. government to stop the separation of families and to reunite those who had already been torn apart. Ever was among the first group of parents prioritized for reunification because Sammy was under the age of 5.

    • Celebrate Women’s Suffrage, but Don’t Whitewash the Movement’s Racism

      Sojourner Truth and Mary Church Terrell are among the activists who endured deeply entrenched racism while fighting for Black women’s right to vote.

      My 94-year-old great-aunt, Paralee Wilmer — we call her Aunty Lee — voted for the first time after moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1944. Born to no-nonsense, small farmers in Millers Ferry, Alabama, and the youngest daughter of 12 children, Aunty Lee was one among many African Americans who moved from the South to the North in search of better job opportunities and greater freedoms during the The Great Migration. These freedoms included the right to vote without intimidation or any other hindrance.

      Aunty Lee’s memory is a bit cloudy regarding whether the first time she cast her ballot was in an election for local politicians or a presidential race, but one thing she knows for sure is her pastor at the time inspired her to exercise her constitutional rights and fulfill her civic duties. He said, “When it’s time to vote, make sure you vote. When it’s time to do grand jury, make sure you go.”

      At age 20, Aunty Lee understood the magnitude of her pastor’s advice, given the disenfranchisement of Black folks that she witnessed growing up in Millers Ferry — including poll taxes, literacy tests, and outright violence and intimidation that prevented Black people from voting. To be a Black citizen in America but denied full citizenship rights epitomizes the hypocrisy of American democracy. This is a sad truth that I repeat like a blues refrain to my students.

      This summer — as the nation celebrates the 170th anniversary of the first major convention for women’s rights at Seneca Falls and the 98th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote — how do we reconcile widespread narratives of a triumphant, steady march towards women’s enfranchisement with the more complicated and painful reality of my great-aunt’s lived experience as a young, Black woman in Jim Crow America?

      One word: intersectionality.

    • Joe Bryan’s Attorneys Ask For New Trial, Say Murder Conviction Built On Faulty Forensics

      In the tiny central Texas town of Comanche, in the same courtroom where he was convicted nearly three decades ago of murdering his wife, Joe Bryan and his attorneys finally got the opportunity this week to make their case that the 77-year-old former high school principal deserves a new trial.

      Over three days, they presented a succession of witnesses who testified that the forensic evidence used to convict Bryan of his wife’s 1985 murder was faulty, and that new evidence pointed to a possible alternative suspect in the killing.

      The hearing — which held out the tantalizing promise of winning Bryan a fresh chance to prove his innocence — drew dozens of spectators who packed the hard-wooden benches inside the Comanche County courthouse. Lining the two front rows were Bryan’s family members, who wore matching red t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Justice For Joe.”

      Behind them, Clifton residents who had not seen Bryan since the 1980s crowded in beside law students, reporters, and top attorneys with the Innocence Project of Texas, who were on hand to assist with Bryan’s case. Penny Blue, the sister of Joe’s late wife, Mickey, sat by herself in the back of the courtroom.

    • Another Prison Phone Service Caught Recording Privileged Conversations And Passing Them On To Law Enforcement

      The law was broken and no one on the law enforcement side did anything to fix it. That split-second decision made during an rapidly-evolving situation (or whatever) may come back to haunt Boston and his Sheriff’s department cohorts. In this mess of 1,000 calls hang 58 serious criminal cases, running the gamut from gang-related charges to the attempted murder prosecution of the offspring of a reality TV star.

      The “technical error” was exposed during the trial of Joshua Waring, the son of a star of “Real Housewives of Orange County.” Inmate services director Greg Boston testified during this case, exposing Global Tel Link’s screwup and the apparent partaking of ill-gotten goods by local law enforcement.

      The Orange Court Sheriff’s Department claims it instructed the service provider to fix the problem when it discovered it had access to privileged recordings. But that hardly explains how Global Tel Link managed to record 1,000 calls it never should have recorded before someone on either end actually noticed the issue. According to Waring’s attorney, the “technical error” went unaddressed for three years, suggesting the OCSD didn’t mind having access to privileged conversations, even when it knew the recordings were illegal under state law.

    • Sanitation Salvage Ordered to Halt Trash Collections

      The agency that oversees New York’s private trash industry ordered Sanitation Salvage, one of the city’s largest haulers, to halt operations, saying the company poses “an imminent danger to life and property.”

      “This company has demonstrated time and time again that they value profit over the lives of New Yorkers and the well-being of their workers,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “We are immediately suspending this company’s license following a pattern of unsafe practices.”

      The action comes after Sanitation Salvage trucks killed two men between November 2017 and April 2018. Those deaths prompted local politicians and community groups to demand closer oversight of a dangerous industry that sends trucks racing through the streets of New York every night.

      The Business Integrity Commission, or BIC, released a five-page order that said the company cannot collect trash in New York City until the commission completes an audit and determines that Sanitation Salvage is no longer a danger to the public.

    • Research Paper Shows Militarized SWAT Teams Don’t Make Cops — Or The Public — Any Safer

      A study has been released confirming what many have suspected: militarization of law enforcement doesn’t make communities safer, has zero effect on officer safety, and is rarely deployed as advertised when agencies make pitches for the acquisition of military gear.

      The most frequent recipient of military tools and training are SWAT teams. Professor Jonathan Mummolo’s research — published by the National Academy of Sciences — gained unprecedented access to SWAT deployment numbers, thanks to a public records request and a Maryland state law requiring documentation of every SWAT raid performed. (That law was allowed to expire by legislators who apparently felt it provided too much transparency and accountability.)

    • CIA Whistleblower: John Brennan Is Out For Himself, Not the Resistance

      Donald Trump’s revoking of ex-CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance has re-ignited a bitter public feud. Ex-CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou argues that given Brennan’s record and personal ambitions, he is not a trustworthy Resister.

    • Lithuania says will not appeal European court ruling over CIA jail

      Lithuania on Wednesday said it would not appeal a European court ruling that the Baltic state had been complicit in a clandestine CIA programme by holding terror suspects at a secret detention site on its territory.

      “We decided it would make no sense to appeal to the Great Chamber because there are no legal criteria for that,” government official Karolina Bubnyte Sirmene told AFP.

      The European Court of Human Rights ruled in May that Lithuania hosted a secret prison from February 2005 to March 2006, when CIA operatives held Abu Zubaydah, considered a top Palestinian operative for Al-Qaeda.

      The EU and NATO state was ordered to pay 100,000 euros ($116,000) in damages to Zubaydah for enabling US authorities to subject him to “inhuman treatment”.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • T-Mobile Begs Small Wireless Carriers To Support Its Awful Merger. The Problem: They Hate It Too

      We’ve repeatedly explained how T-Mobile and Sprint’s latest attempt to merge will be terrible for both jobs and competition. Despite what T-Mobile and Sprint executives have claimed, history suggests the reduction of total wireless carriers from four to three will likely result in less incentive than ever to seriously compete on price. Similarly, while T-Mobile and Sprint have told regulators that the deal will somehow create an explosion in new jobs, Wall Street analysts have predicted that the deal could kill off anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 jobs as the new company inevitably eliminates redundant positions.

      While some diehard T-Mobile and Sprint fans have bought into these claims, most objective observers with a firm grasp on history realize that the promised “synergies” of telecom mergers like this one almost never materialize. And the obvious impact on competition and jobs is a major reason this merger and others like it (including AT&T’s attempt to acquire T-Mobile) have been scuttled by regulators. There’s simply too many examples of this kind of consolidation resulting in massive monopolies with little incentive to give a damn (hi Comcast and AT&T, didn’t see you standing there).

      T-Mobile’s looming merger is so unpopular, the company was forced to quietly hire Trump ally Corey Lewandowski in an effort to seal the deal (the whole mocking a kid with Down Syndrome thing be damned). Reuters notes that the company has also started reaching out to smaller wireless carriers, urging them to not only express support to the FCC, but submit favorable editorials to major papers supporting the merger.

    • Verizon tries to douse criticism, touts “priority access” for first responders

      Verizon officials were contrite and apologetic during a California State Assembly committee hearing that was convened Friday to examine mobile Internet throttling experienced by firefighters during recent blazes.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Chinese patent quality and innovation should not be underestimated, new study claims [Ed: The patent maximalists like to deny that China's SIPO does grant lots of utterly trash patents. Why? Because it puts at risk their maximalist agenda. Here we have the patent trolls' lobby, IAM.]

      Self-reported patent quality in China generally matches up with quantitative measures of patent quality, according to the findings of a recently published study. In the face of some claims that the power of Chinese technological progress is overstated, this is another piece of evidence which indicates that, at least from an IP perspective, the country is very much on the march.

    • USA: Yellowfin Yachts, Inc. v. Barker Boatworks, LLC, United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, No. 17-11176, 07 August 2018

      The federal district court in Tampa did not err in deciding on summary judgment that fishing boat manufacturer Yellowfin Yachts failed to establish that a former executive and his company were liable for trade dress infringement, unfair competition, or trade secret misappropriation, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta has held, affirming summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

    • Birss J excuses Chugai from tocilizumab royalties in UCB “validity tie breaker”
    • SPC export waiver: a long road ahead

      The European Commission’s proposed export waiver for supplementary protection certificates is likely to face opposition and may be delayed by EU parliamentary changes, says Trevor Cook of WilmerHale.

      On hearing that the European Commission had on 28 May 2018 adopted a proposal for a Regulation to amend Regulation (EC) 469/2009 concerning the supplementary protection certificate (SPC) for medicinal products, many practitioners might have been forgiven for imagining that such proposal sought to deal with what are to them are the most pressing issues with the SPC Regulation—perhaps by seeking to introduce a unitary SPC to accompany the proposed unitary patent, or perhaps by addressing some of the confusion surrounding certain aspects of the SPC Regulation that has led to so many references to the Court of Justice but has resulted in so little clear guidance from that body.

    • Trademarks
      • Honey Badger Don’t Care: Protecting Creativity with Trademarks

        The Honey Badger video is probably NSFW — but it is also funny and informative. In the viral video, C.Gordon (aka Randall) who created the video, repeatedly states that “Honey Badger Don’t Care” and “Honey Badger Don’t Give a Shit.” This became a meme. (See google photo search results below.) Gordon registered the “Honey Badger Don’t Care” mark, but at the time couldn’t register the potentially offensive “Don’t Give a Shit” mark.

      • Auckland girl fights global media company over ‘Slime Princess’ trademark

        A 12-year-old Auckland girl is taking on a global media giant after her attempt to trademark “Slime Princess” hit opposition.

        Katharina Weischede, from Henderson in West Auckland, first began making slime as part of a school science fair. What started off as a hobby had by late 2017 become a home-based business called “Slime Princess”.

        Now known by her friends, family and even strangers as the “Slime Princess”, she eventually decided to trademark her business’s name.

      • Nickelodeon Is Opposing A 12 Year Old New Zealand Girl’s ‘Slime’ Trademark For Some Reason

        Viacom has decided to take its trademark bullying game international and possibly against the most sympathetic target it could find. Nickelodeon, owned by Viacom, has decided to oppose the trademark registration of a 12 year old girl in New Zealand, claiming its trademark on the word “slime” is too important. Katharina Weischede has managed to build up an online brand in New Zealand for producing and playing with “slime.” She made a business out of it and attempted to trademark “slime princess”, only to find Nickelodeon opposing it.

    • Copyrights
      • ‘The Locks They Put on DVDs Now Are in Tractors’

        Copyright and farmers don’t often appear in the same story. They did last spring, when agricultural machine maker John Deere argued that farmers should not be able to independently access the operating software in their tractors, for example—because they don’t own that part, they just license it. Or, as our guest put it, “Old McDonald has a tractor, but he owns a massive barn ornament, because the manufacturer holds the rights to the programming that makes it run.”

        Kyle Wiens is co-founder and CEO of iFixit, the online repair community and parts retailer. We asked him to explain the right to repair, and the argument that John Deere and others are trying to make.

      • Recognizing It Had No Chance, Cox Settles BMG Copyright Trolling Case

        The long saga of the BMG v. Cox case is now over. If you don’t recall, BMG had hired the copyright trolling outfit Rightscorp to bombard ISPs with shakedown letters, based on accusations of copyright infringement. Rightscorp really wanted ISPs to pass those letters on to ISP subscribers, including the part where they demand money to leave you alone. As was revealed during the case, Rightscorp would blatantly lie to those subscribers, telling them that if they were innocent they needed to first hand their computers over the police for a forensic search. Cox, after being bombarded with these shakedown letters, started ignoring the Rightscorp letters, leading BMG to sue.

        Cox pointed to the DMCA safe harbors to protect itself, but the judge, Liam O’Grady, made it pretty clear that he didn’t care much for the internet at all, and didn’t seem to mind Righscorp and BMG shaking down people for money with the threat of losing their entire internet access. Of course, it did not help at all that Cox itself had some damning emails about how they treated subscribers accused of infringement. While plenty of attention has been placed on Cox’s apparent “thirteen strikes” policy for those accused (not convicted) of copyright infringement, the real problem came down to the fact that Cox didn’t follow its own repeat infringer policy. So, in the end, Cox lost to BMG in the lower court and it was mostly upheld on appeal.

      • Katy Perry sued for copyright infringement, is Marcus Grey the Dark Horse?

        Following this Kat’s post on the Ed Sheeran copyright infringement case relating to the song “Shape of You” (here), she came across another similar dispute going on over the pond!

        This case, brought in the US District Court of California, is between Plaintiffs Marcus Gray, Chike Ojukwu, and Emanuel Lambert who are Christian rap/hip-hop artists and Defendants Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson (Katy Perry), Jordan Houston (Juicy J), Lukasz Gottwald (Dr Luke) as well as a number of other individuals and music publishers.

        The allegation was first filed on the 1st July 2014, which claimed that the song “Dark Horse” infringed upon the Plaintiffs’ copyright in the song “Joyful Noise.” On 25th June 2018 the defendants filed a motion for a summary judgement and the Court hearing took place on 13th August.

      • Milan court issues dynamic blocking injunction against Italian ISPs

        Does a blocking injunction against an intermediary only concern the domain names indicated in the relevant order or can it be also considered as encompassing future infringements committed through other domain names?

        This is the question that the Milan Court of First Instance (Tribunale di Milano) had to address in the context of interim proceedings between publisher Mondadori and a number of major Italian internet access providers (ISPs).

      • Copyright Trolls Killed Off in Denmark After Supreme Court Hearing Denied

        Two ISPs in Denmark have emerged victorious from a battle to keep the personal details of their customers private. Telenor and Telia were previously ordered to hand over information to copyright trolls but when the demands kept coming, the ISPs kicked back. Following a big win for the providers at the High Court in May, the Supreme Court will not hear the case, meaning the trolls will lose access to their cash cows.

The Unitary Patent (UPC) is Not Delayed; It’s Dead and Without Any Major Rework It Will Go Nowhere

Saturday 25th of August 2018 07:48:29 AM

Summary: The Unified Patent Court (UPC) isn’t just delayed but likely canceled; however, people who planned to make a fortune from UPC-centric lawsuits don’t want the public to know that or see it that way

THE EPO hasn’t mentioned the Unitary Patent in nearly two months. António Campinos said something about it in his first week in Office and that’s about it. The EPO does, however, promote software patents every single day now, even at the USPTO. Yesterday the EPO did that thrice (yes, three times!) in one single day, outdoing its usual once or twice per day. In that regard, Campinos is a lot worse than Battistelli.

“The UPC is nowhere near a reality; it’s very, very far from it. Simply put, the UPC isn’t happening. It is already dead. “The Unitary Patent (or UPC) is itself a Trojan horse for software patents, among other bad things. It is a crude and cycnical attempt to bypass national patent laws and even directives against software patents. It’s just insane and no democratic society should allow this to happen. The German Constitutional Court has already taken that abomination to task, but Team UPC keeps pushing two lies which depend on dismissal of a complaint and elimination of lots of other barriers. The UPC is nowhere near a reality; it’s very, very far from it. Simply put, the UPC isn’t happening. It is already dead.

Managing IP, which worked with the EPO on some UPC advocacy/events, has this new article with a loaded headline: “How patent-heavy businesses are planning for the UPC and unitary patent” (as if it’s about to start).

“Counsel at pharmaceutical, telecommunications, car and plastics manufacturers and medical charities tell Managing IP about their considerations for the unitary system,” Managing IP wrote, hiding all the pertinent quotes behind their paywall (so only people who agree with this agenda can read and scrutinise).

“No, there are no “delays” for UPC. The UPC just isn’t happening. Unitary ‘patents’ do not exist and the foreseen framework is already dead. It’s abandoned. Hardly anyone speaks about it.”What Patrick Wingrove does here is that self-fulfilling fantasy-type of propaganda, i.e. pretty much the same old tactic used by Managing IP for a number of years. On almost the very same day another article emerged, this one titled “Bulgaria ratifies the Protocol on Provisional Application of the UPC Agreement but delays still in store for the UPC” (what an incredible understatement, as if it’s only a matter of time).

No, there are no “delays” for UPC. The UPC just isn’t happening. Unitary ‘patents’ do not exist and the foreseen framework is already dead. It’s abandoned. Hardly anyone speaks about it. It’s gone with the wind, gone with Battistelli, whom nobody has heard anything from since he left at the end of June. Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, which is responsible for the above, is just wanting us to think otherwise and being Team UPC opportunists (litigation ‘industry’) they’re looking really hard for signs of UPC progress, jumping a whole month back to a country with barely any European Patents (a fraction compared to a country like France or Germany). Bulgaria was mentioned on August 21st (but that only showed up yesterday) regarding something that happened back in July. To quote: “On 24 July Bulgaria ratified the Protocol on Provisional Application of the UPC Agreement (Protocol). Four more ratifications/declarations are needed, including Germany, for the Protocol to come into effect and allow the practical workings of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) to be established in preparation for the court coming into operation, which will happen once the UPC Agreement (UPCA) itself has been sufficiently ratified. In both cases, ratification by Germany is a prerequisite. Recently reported comments from the Chairman of the UPC Preparatory Committee have revealed that there may be at least a 6-8 month delay once Germany is ready to ratify the UPCA, given how much needs to be done for the UPC to be ready to open its doors. It therefore looks increasingly unlikely that the UPC will take effect before Brexit unless Germany ratifies the Protocol in the next few months.”

“The EPO does not obey court rulings, it does not care about the law, the management engages in corruption, and the founding document (EPC) doesn’t mean a thing. While this remains the case (António Campinos has not tackled this in any way whatsoever), only a madman would entrust or give the EPO authority/leverage over a legal system, as per the UPC.”Notice their nonchalance; as if they’re already sure about the outcome of the complaint in Germany. As if it’s without merit. What sheer arrogance.

Meanwhile (also yesterday) Mitscherlich PartmbB’s Christian Rupp talked about an upcoming/past case for the Boards of Appeal. The EPO has already attacked its judges pretty viciously; the Boards of Appeal can therefore not rule independently and that’s a persistent problem which even the German Constitutional Court is well aware of. Rupp wrote:

In the decision T2563/11 the Boards of Appeal of the European patent had to deal with a divisional application having identical claims to a parent application (on which in the meanwhile a patent had been granted), but having differences in the specification – which, in the opinion of the applicant, lead to a different scope of protection vis-à-vis the scope of the granted parent.

The Board decided that, for the double patenting prohibition, it is the “matter for which protection is sought” defined in the claims (in line with the wording of Art. 84 EPC) which matters, but not the scope of protection, or more exactly “the extent of the protection conferred by a European patent” as defined in Art. 69 EPC. According to Art. 69EPC the “extent of the protection” shall be determined by the claims, however wherein the description and drawings shall be used to interpret the claims.

The EPC is no longer applicable in the EPO however; it was repeatedly violated by Battistelli, who faced no consequences for violating the EPC. The reality of the matter is — and the German Constitutional Court has ample evidence of it — the EPO now operates above the law. The EPO does not obey court rulings, it does not care about the law, the management engages in corruption, and the founding document (EPC) doesn’t mean a thing. While this remains the case (António Campinos has not tackled this in any way whatsoever), only a madman would entrust or give the EPO authority/leverage over a legal system, as per the UPC.

In Koch v EPO, a Rare Glimpse at Tricks the EPO Employs at the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)

Saturday 25th of August 2018 06:59:34 AM

Uploaded by Koch two days ago to her Twitter account

Summary: The latest public disclosure about an ongoing case that is years old and demonstrates the appalling treatment of EPO workers by the current management

THE case of Mrs. (and Dr.) Koch is one we’ve been hearing about for years because many EPO insiders are well aware of it. They speak about it.

Well, Dr. Koch is back at it; days ago she was uploading a bunch of E-mails — as she did before — and tweeting updates about her case and the case’s history. The latest burst of messages says: “You may guess why former Vice-President of the #EPO’s DG1 insisted that the investigation under #EPO’s Circular 342 (against #human #rights and the principle of #non-#retroactivity) should go ahead, while at least the pretext for the investigation would have disappeared, s. below [] The investigation under the #EPO’s Circular 342 was only stopped, after (and probably because) I had been forced to “offer” early retirement under compelling pressure (illness, further threats to my health due to C342). [] I was also refused an #employment #medical #examination since September 2012, at that time. #offerofretirementunder #compelling #pressure [] After I had been compelled into an “offer” of retirement (of 31-5-2013), I was informed (on 6-6-2013) that the investigation would not proceed, and the EPO granted me a medical committee (15/17-7-2013) with a delay of 10 months. [] So I withdrew my “offer” which had not been accepted at that time – at least the EPO never provided any hard proof to the contrary. Besides it had been made under compelling pressure. [] One of the two physicians of the medical committee declared that I was unfit for my then tasks, the other one had not decided yet at the time of the medical committee’s report on 9-9-2013. [] The EPO did not accept the withdrawal of my “offer” of retirement, i.e. I was #irregularly #dismissed on 19-9-2013. On 9 October 2013 the EPO also stopped the Medical Committee’s work, since I would have had “voluntarily retired”, as wrongly alleged. [] Now the #EPO simply tries to delay my cases on #medical #committee and #irregular #dismissal with the #Admin. #Tribunal of the #ILO (AT5-4532 and AT 5-4384), by restarting them in internal appeals even before any judgment by the #Tribunal.”

“It took Campinos nearly two months just to comply with an ILO ruling (after he was repeatedly pressured about it).”As readers may recall, last month we contacted Koch regarding her case after she had made some details about it public. She does not believe António Campinos gives hope to people in her position/situation, i.e. perhaps hundreds of EPO workers and ex-workers. It took Campinos nearly two months just to comply with an ILO ruling (after he was repeatedly pressured about it).

Links 24/8/2018: Intel’s Gag Backfires, Red Hat Takes Aim at VMware

Friday 24th of August 2018 04:22:13 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Microsoft Investigated For Alleged Bribery and Corruption in Hungary

    U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Microsoft for possible bribery and corruption in its pursuit of software sales in Hungary, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

  • Desktop
    • You want how much?! Israel opts not to renew its Office 365 vows

      Microsoft’s desire to move users into the exciting world of Office 365 subscriptions has been dealt a blow as the Israeli government took a look and said “no thanks.”

      In a statement given to The Register, the Israeli Ministry of Finance explained that it currently spends more than 100m Israel New Shekels (£21.3m) per year on Microsoft’s software products.

    • Big List of Most Popular Chromebook Brands Will Not Receive Linux Support Due to 3.14 Kernel

      It turns out that unfortunately a lot of Chromebooks with the Linux 3.14 kernel aren’t going to be getting any Linux app support from Google – including Google’s own Chromebook Pixel series. This is quite a blow to the Chromebook Linux community, as many developers were always working on backporting the essential kernel modules such as vsock, trying their best to make vsock backward compatible – though it turned out that vsock isn’t backwards compatible with Linux kernel 3.14, but the point remains.

    • Old Chromebooks won’t get Linux app support after all
    • Chromebooks with Linux kernel 3.14 & older won’t get Linux app support
    • Linux apps are NOT coming to many still-supported Chromebooks
    • Older Chromebooks including the 3-year-old Chromebook Pixel won’t get Linux apps
    • Linux Apps Won’t Come To Many Older Chromebooks Including the 2015 Pixel – But There’s A Catch
    • Linux Apps On Chrome OS To Require Kernel Version Above 3.14
    • Chromebook Linux support: not everyone’s invited to the party
    • Older Chromebooks may not run Linux programs due to outdated software

      Not all Chromebooks will support Linux software when the feature comes to Chrome OS later this year. So far, 14 devices may be excluded from the list including Google’s own Chromebook Pixel introduced in 2015. The current list, generated on Reddit, consists of four models from Acer, four models from Asus, two from AOpen, and more.

      Google revealed support for Linux software on Chrome OS during its developer conference earlier this year. The idea is for developers to test their Android- and web-based apps on Chromebooks. Linux would run inside a virtual machine designed specifically for Chrome OS, which is simply an emulated high-end computer running within your PC’s real-world system memory.

    • Organizing a Market for Applications

      The “Year of the Desktop” has been a perennial call to arms that’s sunken into a joke that’s way past its expiration date. We frequently talk about the “Year of the Desktop”, but we don’t really talk about how we would achieve that goal. What does the “Year of the Desktop” even look like?

      What it comes down to is applications—rather, a market for applications. There is no market for applications because of a number of cultural artifacts that began when the Free Software was just getting up on wobbly legs.

      Today, what we have is a distribution-centric model. Software is distributed by an OSV (operating system vendor), and users get their software directly from there via whatever packaging mechanism that OSV supports. This model evolved, because in the early-to-mid 1990s, those OSVs existed to compile the kernel and userspace into a cohesive product. Packaging of applications was the next step as a convenience factor to save users from having to compile their own applications, which always was a hit-or-miss endeavor as developers had different development environment from the users. Ultimately, OSVs enjoyed being gatekeepers as part of keeping developers honest and fixing issues that were unique to their operating system. OSVs saw themselves as agents representing users to provide high-quality software, and there was a feeling that developers were not to be trusted, as of course, nobody knows the state of their operating system better than they would.

  • Server
    • Aqua Security Open Sources Container Pen Test

      Aqua Security is trying to level the container security playing field by making available as an open source project an open source edition of a penetration testing tool designed specifically for container clusters.

      Rani Osnat, vice president of product marketing for Aqua Security, says kube-hunter is an automated penetration testing tool that developers and cybersecurity teams can employ to discover vulnerabilities within containers.

      That tool is designed to be run in two modes. Passive hunters run by default and are designed to execute a series of tests that probe for potential access points within your cluster. An active hunting mode then can be employed to execute additional tests against any weaknesses found with the passive hunter. Results from those tests are then shown on a website hosted by Aqua Security.

    • Getting started with Linux containers

      A major drawback of an OS-based model is that it is slow, and to deploy a new application, IT administrators might need to install a new server, which incurs operational costs and requires time.

      When every application has its own copy of the OS, operations are often inefficient. For example, to guarantee security, every application needs its own dedicated server, which results in lots of under-utilized hardware in the data center.

      A container is an isolated environment where the OS uses namespaces to create barriers. Linux containers have all the necessary components to run an application and make it easy to run a container on top of an operating system.

      From a hardware standpoint, containers utilize resources more efficiently. If there is still hardware capacity available, containers can use that and admins won’t need to install a new server.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • UBIFS & OverlayFS Updates Hit The Linux 4.19 Kernel

      For the Linux 4.19 kernel there’s been a lot of F2FS performance enhancements and more, the new EROFS file-system, low-level Btrfs improvements, and more. Some of the file-system work less in the spotlight are the OverlayFS and UBIFS updates sent in this week.

      On the OverlayFS front it’s a fairly notable merge window. OverlayFS now has support for stack file operations and metadata-only copy-up. The stack file operation support alone will allow cleaning up some “hacks” in the kernel’s VFS code and other code improvements. The details on the OverlayFS work via this pull from a few days ago.

    • Linux 4.19 ARM Updates Bring Raspberry Pi Voltage Driver, Samsung Aires Phone Support

      Olof Johansson has sent in his usual batch of multiple pull requests updating the ARM hardware support, this time for the nearly-over Linux 4.19 kernel merge window.

      There is some good additions to the ARM hardware support in Linux 4.19 like the Raspberry Pi voltage driver as well as the Raspberry Pi Compute Module CM1 support in mainline, a few new SoCs, and various new hardware devices supported — including the $100 Chinese Pinebook ARM 64-bit laptop recently making rounds. Though not part of the Linux 4.19 cycle is anything more on the lack of NXP i.MX8 support and has us increasingly wondering not if Purism will make their Librem 5 ship goal for this Linux smartphone but how far they will be off that ship date… Their Librem 5 developer kits also appear to have not begun shipping yet.

    • Linux 4.19 Adds Deferred Console Takeover Support For FBDEV – Cleaner Boot Process

      While FBDEV has been on its last leg for years with some calling for its deprecation and encouraging instead DRM/KMS drivers rather than (mostly embedded vendors) focusing on FBDEV frame-buffer drivers, with Linux 4.19 the FBDEV subsystem is bringing a useful addition to the kernel.

      Hans de Goede, who has done a range of useful kernel contributions over the years at Red Hat from working out better Linux laptop power management to a cleaner boot process, has been working this summer on deferred console takeover support.

    • OpenRISC Continues Puttering Along With Linux 4.19 Improvements, New GCC Port

      While OpenRISC has been around longer than RISC-V as an open-source processor ISA, with not having as many commercial stakeholders involved, it hasn’t been off to the races as quickly, but it’s still marching to the beat of its own drum.

      OpenRISC developer Stafford Horne today sent in the kernel patches for the Linux 4.19 cycle. The only changes on the OpenRISC front for the Linux 4.19 cycle is work done by Christoph Hellwig to allow this CPU architecture code to use the kernel’s generic DMA interfaces.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Open Source Akraino Edge Computing Project Leaps Into Action

        The ubiquitous topic of edge computing has so far primarily focused on IoT and machine learning. A new Linux Foundation project called Akraino Edge Stack intends to standardize similar concepts for use on edge telecom and networking systems in addition to IoT gateways. The goal to build an “open source software stack that supports high-availability cloud services optimized for edge computing systems and applications,” says the project.

        “The Akraino Edge Stack project is focused on anything related to the edge, including both telco and enterprise use cases,” said Akraino evangelist Kandan Kathirvel, Director of Cloud Strategy & Architecture at AT&T, in an interview with Linux.com.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Patches Prep The Merging Of AMDKFD + AMDGPU Linux Drivers

        The plans talked about in early July for merging the AMDKFD driver into the AMDGPU DRM driver are moving ahead and out today are the initial patches working towards this merger.

        AMDKFD is the graphics vendor’s “Kernel Fusion Driver” with the name originating from the Fusion days and is the kernel bits needed for HSA/compute on Radeon graphics hardware.

    • Benchmarks
      • AMDGPU-PRO 18.30 Pro/Open vs. Upstream Mesa OpenGL/Vulkan Radeon Benchmarks

        Last week AMD released the AMDGPU-PRO 18.30 hybrid driver featuring their latest optional proprietary Linux driver components as well as the “all-open” driver stack option. Here are some initial benchmarks of that driver stack compared to what’s shipped by default in Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS as well as the latest upstream Mesa/AMDGPU support.

        AMDGPU-PRO 18.30 was introduced with Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS support as well as for Ubuntu 16.04.5 and RHEL/CentOS 6.10 and 7.5. AMDGPU-PRO doesn’t see new releases too often these days so also coming with 18.30 is the Radeon Pro WX 8200 graphics card support, CLI-based WattMan-like functionality, and other updates.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • The $99 Laptop That Can Run KDE Neon

        A $99 laptop that can run KDE Neon and the full Plasma desktop? I’m intrigued!

        But that’s exactly what KDE Neon’s Jonathan Riddell has shared word of on his blog, highlighting a new collaborative version of the distro designed for the Pinebook ARM laptop.

        “Blue Systems has worked together with the manufacturer of the Pinebook to create a showcase test image that runs well on these devices,” he writes.

      • Last week in Kube
      • Optimizing Kube’s storage

        Near the middle / end of my internship, I got to modify parts of the storage system in Sink, the library handling all the data of Kube.

        The goal was to both to speed up the storage and reducing disk space. These two goals often go hands in hand in databases, since smaller data means faster disk lookup, and more data put in memory, available for direct usage.

      • digiKam 6.0.0 beta 1 is released

        Dear digiKam fans and users, following the long stage of integrating a lots of work from students during the Summer of Code we are proud to announce the first beta of digiKam 6.0.0.

      • digiKam 6.0 Beta Brings Full Video File Management, Greater Camera Coverage

        Just over two years since digiKam 5.0 shipped, this Qt/KDE-aligned open-source photo management software has debuted its 6.0 beta release.

        The headlining feature of digiKam 6.0 Beta is that there is now full support for the management of video files, in a similar manner to digiKam’s photo management. The meta-data on video files are now fully extracted and the video files can be dealt with in the same manner as one would manage a photograph using this software.

      • I was at Akademy 2018!

        It was a very productive week of intense discussion and hacking. This year it was hosted by the Technical University of the beautiful City of Vienna.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Fun with SuperIO

        While I’m waiting back for NVMe vendors (already one tentatively onboard!) I’ve started looking at “embedded controller” devices. The EC on your laptop historically used to just control the PS/2 keyboard and mouse, but now does fan control, power management, UARTs, GPIOs, LEDs, SMBUS, and various tasks the main CPU is too important to care about. Vendors issue firmware updates for this kind of device, but normally wrap up the EC update as part of the “BIOS” update as the system firmware and EC work together using various ACPI methods. Some vendors do the EC update out-of-band and so we need to teach fwupd about how to query the EC to get the model and version on that specific hardware. The Linux laptop vendor Tuxedo wants to update the EC and system firmware separately using the LVFS, and helpfully loaned me an InfinityBook Pro 13 that was immediately disassembled and connected to all kinds of exotic external programmers. On first impressions the N131WU seems quick, stable and really well designed internally — I’m sure would get a 10/10 for repairability.

      • Please welcome AKiTiO to the LVFS

        Over the last few weeks AKiTiO added support for the Node and Node Lite devices, and I’m sure they’ll be more in the future. It’s been a pleasure working with the engineers and getting them up to speed with uploading to the LVFS.

        In other news, Lenovo also added support for the ThinkPad T460 on the LVFS, so get any updates while they’re hot. If you want to try this you’ll have to enable the lvfs-testing remote either using fwupdmgr enable-remote lvfs-testing or using the sources dialog in recent versions of GNOME Software. More Lenovo updates coming soon, and hopefully even more vendor announcements too.

      • AKiTiO Thunderbolt Devices Begin Receiving Firmware Upgrade Support Under Linux

        AKiTiO is the latest hardware vendor beginning to allow for firmware upgrades in an easy and reliable manner under Linux.

        Red Hat’s Richard Hughes has shared that AKiTiO has begun supporting the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) for distributing firmware updates to Linux users and the subsequent firmware upgrades being carried out by the fwupd utility.

  • Distributions
    • Intel ‘gags’ Linux distros from revealing performance hit from Spectre patches

      Open-source champion Bruce Perens has called out Intel for adding a new restriction to its software license agreement along with its latest CPU security patches to prevent developers from publishing software benchmark results.

      The new clause appears to be a move by Intel to legally gag developers from revealing performance degradation caused by its mitigations for Spectre and Foreshadow or ‘L1 Terminal Fault’ (L1FT) flaw speculative attacks.

      “You will not, and will not allow any third party to … publish or provide any software benchmark or comparison test results,” Intel’s new agreement states.

      The new term appeared with the fixes for ‘L1 Terminal Fault’ that were recently delivered to Microsoft and Linux distributions.

    • Intel Clears Up Microcode Licensing Controversy – Simpler License, Allows Benchmarking

      Over the past day online there has been lots of controversy following some high-profile sites reporting about Intel’s “un-friendly microcode license update” and its “ban on benchmarking”, among other catch phrases. It’s now been officially cleared up by Intel with a simpler license that doesn’t forbid benchmarking, allows distribution vendors to re-distributed these binary files to their users, and doesn’t have any other nastiness integrated into the legal text.

    • Perens: Intel Publishes Microcode Security Patches, No Benchmarking Or Comparison Allowed

      Bruce Perens looks at the license agreement for Intel’s latest CPU microcode update and does not like what he sees.

    • Intel Publishes Microcode Security Patches, No Benchmarking Or Comparison Allowed!

      UPDATE: Intel has resolved their microcode licensing issue which I complained about in this blog post.

    • Use Debian? Want Intel’s latest CPU patch? Small print sparks big problem

      At least one Linux distribution is withholding security patches that mitigate the latest round of Intel CPU design flaws – due to a problematic license clash.

      Specifically, the patch is Chipzilla’s processor microcode update emitted this month to stop malware stealing sensitive data from memory by exploiting the L1 Terminal Fault vulnerability in Intel’s silicon. The biz had released microcode in July that corrected the underlying problem mostly for server-grade CPUs; this latest fix now covers desktop processors.

      Ideally, Intel’s CPU microcode is updated by the motherboard firmware during boot. However, manufacturers may be slow to emit patches, so operating system kernels can also push updates to the chipset during startup. Since microcode updated in this way is discarded every time the power is cycled, it is up to the firmware and OS to reapply the update as early as it can during the boot process.

    • Debian Withholding Intel Security Patches, Linus Torvalds on the XArray Pull Request, Red Hat Transitioning Its Container Registry, Akraino Edge Stack Moves to Execution Phase, openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshots Released and digiKam 6.0.0 Beta 1 Now Available

      Debian is withholding security patches for the latest Intel CPU design flaw due to licensing issues. The Register reports that the end-user license file Intel added to the archive “prohibits, among other things, users from using any portion of the software without agreeing to be legally bound by the terms of the license”, and Debian is not having it. See also Bruce Perens’ blog post on this issue.

    • Intel rips up microcode security fix license that banned benchmarking
    • Intel Statement on Benchmark Clause: “We Are Updating the License”
    • (Updated) Intel says no more benchmarks on Linux in new terms of microcode update
    • Intel catches heat for CPU benchmarking clause, responds to complaints
    • Intel Included Gag-Order In Microcode Update – Update: Gag-Order Removed
    • Updated: Intel Answers Complaints About Microcode Benchmarking Ban
    • Debian rejects Intel code update
    • Controversial T&C clause found in Intel’s latest microcode update
    • Intel EULA Agreement Forbids Linux Users From Sharing CPU Benchmarks of L1TF Performance Hit
    • Intel makes CPU benchmark publishing illegal after security patch
    • Intel backtracks on controversial benchmark clause, updating its T&Cs
    • Intel Puts Microcode Benchmarking Ban On Linux Distros; Retracts Later

      Well-known open-source programmer Bruce Perens has called out Intel for placing new restrictions on its software license agreement that prevents developers from publishing software benchmark results.

    • Intel EULA License prohibits benchmarks on new Linux microcode Patches

      Intel recently has provided its microcode updates for Linux distributions. The Register reports that Debian is rejecting a new Intel microcode update because of a new license term prohibiting the use of the CPU for benchmarks and profiling.

      There is a new license term applied to the new microcode: “You will not, and will not allow any third party to (i) use, copy, distribute, sell or offer to sell the Software or associated documentation; (ii) modify, adapt, enhance, disassemble, decompile, reverse engineer, change or create derivative works from the Software except and only to the extent as specifically required by mandatory applicable laws or any applicable third party license terms accompanying the Software; (iii) use or make the Software available for the use or benefit of third parties; or (iv) use the Software on Your products other than those that include the Intel hardware product(s), platform(s), or software identified in the Software; or (v) publish or provide any Software benchmark or comparison test results.”

    • Reviews
      • Quirky Linux: Pleasingly Peculiar

        Quirky Linux is a classic example of what makes Linux such a varied and useful operating system.

        Puppy Linux developer Barry Kauler earlier this month released Quirky Xerus 64 version 8.6, which comes packed with the latest innovations for doing Linux stuff differently.

        This latest in the “Xerus” series is a must-try if you like to push your computing experience envelope. It offers a slightly different approach to blending a traditional Linux desktop with the latest in usability options.

    • New Releases
      • Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 released with updated Ubuntu core 18.04 and a modern look

        The Bodhi Team have announced the fifth major release of their Linux distribution. Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 comes with an updated Ubuntu core 18.04 and an overall modern look for its Moksha Window Manager.

        Bodhi Linux was first released as a stable version seven years ago, as a lightweight Linux distribution based on Ubuntu and Moksha window manager. It uses a minimal base system allowing users to populate it with the software of their choice.

        Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 features disc images which have a fresh new look; a modified version of the popular ‘Arc Dark’ theme colorized in Bodhi Green. They have also included a fresh default wallpaper, login screen, and splash scenes as your system boots.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Tumbleweed Snapshots Bring Changes for KVM, QEMU, Xen

        The most recent snapshot, 20180818, updated the kernel to version 4.18.0, which brought many changes for KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine). Mozilla Firefox 61.0.2 improved website rendering with the Retained Display List feature enabled and also fixed broken DevTools panels. The ffmpeg 4.0.2 package in the snapshot added conditional package configuration and AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) support. Netfilter project nftables was restored as the default backend with firewalld 0.6.1 and now nftables and iptables can co-exist after a bug fix with the ‘nat’ table form the 4.18 kernel. The Command Line Interface configuration utility for wireless devices known as iw added support in its 4.14 for all new kernel features of kernel 4.14. The HTTP client/server library for GNOME, libsoup 2.62.3, now uses an atomic-refcounting in classes that are not using GObject-refcounting. The Linux Kernel 4.16 or higher is needed for the strace 4.24 package, which implemented decoding of KVM vcpu (virtual central processing unit) exit reason as an option, and yast2-http-server 4.1.1 fixed PHP support by dropping php5 and using php7.

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Is Now Powered by Linux Kernel 4.18, Introduces AV1 Support

        Even though it’s the holidays season and most developers take a break from all the heavy work they do all year, the OpenSuSE Tumbleweed operating system continues to receive some of the freshest updates, and this week it received a major kernel bump with the latest Linux 4.18 kernel series, which brings lots of new features.

        “The most recent snapshot, 20180818, updated the kernel to version 4.18.0, which brought many changes for KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine),” said Douglas DeMaio. “Netfilter project nftables was restored as the default backend with firewalld 0.6.1 and now nftables and iptables can co-exist after a bug fix with the ‘nat’ table form the [Linux] 4.18 kernel.”

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Beta released with focus on security, cloud, and automation

        Red Hat has rolled out their Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 beta in their goal of becoming the cloud powerhouse. This release focuses on security and compliance, automation, and cloud deployment features.

      • Red Hat’s Open Source Migration Service

        New service aims to help users avoid vendor lock-in and proprietary virtualisation silos

        Red Hat has rolled out a a new managed infrastructure migration service that aims to help enterprises shift to open source infrastructure.

        The service from the North Carolina-headquartered open source giant bundles together a range of existing and forthcoming Red Hat offerings into a three-step mechanism.

        This aims to help enterprises tackle legacy virtualisation infrastructure issues, from closed vendor systems to onerous licencing costs.

        James Labocki Director of Product Management at Red Hat told Computer Business Review that the rationale for the product was fundamentally simple.

      • Red Hat Virtualization hypervisor adoption considerations

        RHV offers centralized management with Red Hat Virtualization Manager and is integrated with Red Hat’s cloud tools, including Red Hat Ansible Automation and Red Hat CloudForms, which enables customers to orchestrate and automate events, handle reporting, and enforce compliance requirements.

        RHV also supports OpenStack Glance and Neutron, which means RHV works in private and hybrid cloud infrastructures. Simple network management protocol messaging handles third-party monitoring.

      • Red Hat Takes Virtualization Aim at VMware
      • Red Hat Takes Aim At VMware

        Red Hat thinks VMware is an anchor dragging enterprise IT departments down, and it’s looking provide wings to help them soar. The ruby-lidded guys are launching infrastructure migration tools and professional services to migrate “legacy virtualization solutions” (Red Hat’s euphemism for the V-team) to open source.

        In a blog post scheduled to go live Thursday, Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) takes aim at the financial cost of running these “legacy virtualization solutions,” and promises to help enterprises “cut costs and speed innovation through cloud-native and container-based technologies.” Red Hat says the cost of running legacy infrastructure starves enterprises of the resources needed for digital transformation. Red Hat is looking to fix that.

      • Red Hat Goals To Assist Firms Migrate To A Modern IT Infrastructure

        Business enterprises nowadays aren’t shy about their desire embrace “digital transformation,” and the companies that provide much of their information technology infrastructure are falling over themselves which is happening again and again.

      • How the Boston Children’s Hospital Is Innovating on Top of an Open Cloud

        Pienaar says that it’s very important that it is all open source and, again, not just because of the cost savings. Having been using Linux from the start of the project, he believes they wouldn’t have access to the different development environments and languages they’d want to use if they were tied to a proprietary cloud.

        “I very much am inspired by the idea that, with these open source approaches, we can build things that really affect data that has real connections to the world behind it,” Pienaar said.

        “Right now if we were trying to collaborate deep down into the Amazon cloud, I would imagine we would have to set up a licensing agreement with Amazon. I wouldn’t be able to download the Amazon Cloud to run up my own environment. And while the full power of ChRIS lies in its connection to the Mass Open Cloud, nothing stops you from downloading and running ChRIS right now on your laptop. The entire ChRIS is available. Your experience is identical — albeit your laptop might not quite muster the grade for heavy computing. Still, you can troubleshoot and develop to your own mini-but-complete ChRIS in totality and then with a click deploy to any number of other ‘ChRISes’ that live out on clouds.”

        [...]

        Both this use case and the medical ones follow an operational pattern of bringing in the data and code, running on the optimum numbers of data, and sharing the input data and the temporary data that are required for the application itself. ChRIS also has mechanisms that can facilitate visualizing the data for clinicians.

        The end goal is not to just make applications run faster on a single machine, but to open source data itself, while still remaining compliant to regulations like the U.S.’s HIPAA and Europe’s GDPR.

      • [PodCTL] PodCTL #46 – KubeVirt and Container Native Virtualization

        Does it feel like sometimes the new Kubernetes updates are only targeted at new, cloud-native applications? What about all those existing applications that aren’t microservices or are running in virtual machines today? Today’s show looks at the intersection of container, virtual machines and Kubernetes. We talk about the KubeVirt project and the work that Red Hat is doing with Container Native Virtualization. It’s a great look at how new Kubernetes capabilities like Customer Resource Definitions (CRDs) are allowing Kubernetes to expand it’s capabilities without making the core project less stable.

      • Eclipse MicroProfile and Red Hat Update: Thorntail and SmallRye

        With the name, we also changed versioning to come back to a more semantic version numbering. Thus the last release version of WildFly Swarm was 2018.5.0 and the first version of Thorntail (same code, different name) was 2.0.0.Final.

        Changing the version numbering makes it easier for us to communicate about new features and have better links to downstream project versions.

        You’ll find more information on the project renaming and versioning changes in this interview that Bob McWhirter gave to InfoQ.

      • Can I catch up with Linux containers?

        Cloud, Linux containers, and container orchestration (in the form of Kubernetes) are the topics I hear being discussed the most today. Most IT organizations are discussing DevOps and microservices. The will to deep dive into that pool of fresh new experiences is leading many organizations to rethink tooling, culture, and processes in-house. Businesses want all the benefits of this digital transformation, but are you really prepared for this new paradigm? Are you really ready for containers?

        In order to standardize environments, isolate processes or increase modularity, to be able to better produce code, services and provide maintenance, the solution that comes in handy is containers. A smaller footprint which is standardized and isolated while consuming the resources of the host was the perfect recipe. Click here to understand what containers are.

      • Transitioning the Red Hat container registry

        Red Hat has seen significant adoption of our container ecosystem since we began shipping Red Hat Enterprise Linux with support for Linux containers more than four years ago. To support our existing users and users to come, we will be transitioning our product portfolio and customers to a new container registry for Red Hat container images available at registry.redhat.io over the next year. We have several reasons to make this change, and we’re also taking a number of steps to make the move away from registry.access.redhat.com as minimally disruptive as possible.

      • Maxta Launches Hyperconverged (Un)Appliance for Red Hat Virtualization Pre-Configured on Intel® Data Center Blocks
      • Introducing Red Hat infrastructure migration solution: An enterprise-grade remedy designed for proprietary virtualization silo ills

        For many organizations, legacy virtualization solutions can stifle innovation and IT advancement, which can limit the path to hybrid cloud infrastructure, where workloads and resources span physical, virtual and cloud-based environments. The cost of maintaining these existing infrastructure investments can tie up a significant portion of IT budgets. Compounding this, Gartner states, “IT organizations with goals for “doing more with less” find it difficult to quantify, estimate and communicate the level of non-discretionary IT spending needed to sustain business transformation.” With the budget remaining, an organization can be forced to put digital transformation, the modernization of IT environments through digital technologies, on hold.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Flock 2018

          A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of traveling to Dresden, Germany to attend Flock, the annual gathering of Fedora contributors. This was my third Flock and it was fun and quite productive.

          One of the things I enjoyed about this year’s schedule was the built-in coffee breaks. Most conferences pack the schedule completely full with many simultaneous tracks, so that attending the “hallway track” means that you are missing talks. The built-in coffee breaks were such that there were no other scheduled activities, which was great for having sanctioned hallway track time. It was a great idea and I hope it is also incorporated into next year’s event.

        • IBus 1.5.19 is released

          IBus 1.5.19 is now released and it’s available in Fedora 29.

        • [ES] Docker Meetup 05 Panamá [Docker+Fedora]
        • Civility in a systemd World

          Let me just say that I don’t really know much of anything about systemd and as such, I’m not even sure I care. I know that people either like systemd or really, really, hate systemd and that there is a very slim slice of global users that don’t care one way or the other. I also know that literally everything in life can be turned into a punchline joke if you link it to systemd. You don’t even have to understand the specifics of the joke, you just know that if systemd is part of the punch line that you are supposed to laugh. Now after all that, here is the real reason for this post.

          I was listening to episode 262 of the Linux Unplugged podcast in which there is a discussion of Benno Rice’s BSDCan 2018 keynote called “The Tragedy of systemd. First, the discussion was really, really good and certainly thought provoking. I would highly recommend listening to the discussion. It was interesting enough that I had to go and actually find the keynote presentation and watch it in it’s entirety. Remember what I said at the start of this post, I don’t really know anything about systemd nor do I know if I even care. And yet I am willing to say it was a very good presentation.

    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Deepin OS 15.7 – Enjoy The Better Performance

          Deepin OS is among the most awesome Operating Systems in the world, period. The Debian-based distro has successfully won the hearts of everybody that I know has used it for over a day and its latest release (in the form of version 15.7) brings so many improvements I could have a field day reviewing them all.

          If you are not already familiar with this OS then don’t skip this article.

          Deepin OS is an open-source, Debian-based desktop distribution whose aim is to provide users with a beautiful, security-conscious, and user-friendly Operating System. It was initially based on Ubuntu until the release of its current major version, 15 when it switched to model Debian.

          As at the time of writing, it sits at #28 on Distrowatch and has a 9/10 rating out of 301 reviews with approx. 325 hits per day.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • The Road to K8s/vSphere Integration

            Recently, Juju began supporting cloud-native features via “integrator” charms (e.g.: aws-integrator, gcp-integrator, openstack-integrator). These allow charms to request things like persistent storage from a cloud provider without having to shuffle your super-secret credentials around to all the applications in your deployment.

            The way an integrator charm works is simple: you entrust it (and only it) with your Juju credentials for a particular cloud and then relate it to charms that want to make cloud-native requests. The integrator will ensure appropriate roles are created, submit a request to the cloud, and then notify the requesting charm that enough data is available to start using the new resource.

            Lately I’ve been testing Canonical Kubernetes (CDK) on the VMware vSphere platform — to Juju, vSphere is supported like any other cloud. I really needed persistent storage for my pods and thought, “it sure would be nice if there was a vsphere-integrator that I could use for this.” So I wrote one.

          • Ubuntu/Debian Add LZ4-Compressed Initramfs Support, Will Auto Decide LZ4/XZ Choice

            Back in March was the discussion about Ubuntu 18.10 considering an LZ4-compressed kernel image (initamfs) by default while now action has been taken on this support and coming up with a new default.

            With the latest Ubuntu and Debian packages, compressing the initramfs using LZ4 is now supported. Ubuntu up to this point has been using the basic Gzip compression support. The benefit to using an LZ4-compressed image is much quicker decompression than alternative algorithms but it does mean a slightly larger file size.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: TransmogrifAI

    Salesforce is open sourcing a tool that aims to make it easier to build scaled machine learning systems for enterprises, TransmogrifAI.

    TransmogrifAI is a automated machine learning library for structured data that enables data teams to transform customer data into meaningful predictions, according to the company.

    Salesforce explained it has been using TransmogrifAI to power its Einstein AI platform, but it wants to open up the project to empower other developers to build machine learning solutions at scale.

  • Channeling Community Wisdom: Recent Open Source Momentum And What’s To Come
  • The “Sign-in with Facebook” problem and the open source solution

    Managing accounts, credentials and personal information on the Internet has become a nightmare. Almost every website today encourages users to register, or even requires them to do so to be able to access content. They usually want some combination of your email, a password, your name and date of birth. This information is always the same, yet you spend your time typing it again and again, then double checking it for mistakes and correcting typos before pressing Enter and being granted access.

    And you often reuse the same password that you already used for countless other websites, because there are only so many passwords that you can remember – until you find a website with an annoying password policy that your ordinary password does not meet, and then you have to add a punctuation symbol, a Greek letter and a B flat note played on a horn.

    Some people try to solve this by using password managers, such as the ones included in modern browsers – and then they have to remember and secure the password to their password manager, and there is no way to recover their accounts if they lose it; and if they end up using someone else’s device, or a PC in an Internet café, they cannot log in anywhere, as they do not know any of their passwords any more. So they will save their credentials on their mobile phone, which then gets stolen, putting all their online affairs at risk.

  • What is Qiskit, IBM’s open source quantum computing framework

    Researchers, scientists, academics, hobbyists, businesses – all of these groups are represented in the community of Qiskit, the open source framework based on IBM’s quantum computing programme that’s opening up access to real quantum computing in the cloud for everyone.

    Qiskit (Quantum Information Science Kit) is just over a year old, and it followed up the IBM Quantum Experience – IBM Q Experience for short – a program that put quantum computers on the cloud (for the first time) so researchers and developers could tinker with the almost brand-new field of computation.

    Since opening up the Q Experience, hobbyists have created games and composed music using real quantum computers, while scientists and researchers are using qubits to solve problems that were previously too difficult to solve.

  • Potential for Open Source for Health IT Software Development

    Open source development supports health IT software innovation as healthcare technology vendors and provider organizations work on improving the same source code.

    “Open source is a methodology on how to develop software,” Red Hat Director of Healthcare Craig Klein told HITInfrastructure.com. “The premise behind open source is you have a group of people collaborating on a particular piece of code. For example, if you have someone building an operating system, there may be one hundred thousand people contributing that particular piece of code from thousands of organizations.”

    The number of developers lends open source as an avenue for health IT innovation. Industry professionals are constantly improving on available source code and sharing their improvements with the open standards community.

    Open standards encourage competing implementations of the same standard, rather than creating competing platforms. This can benefit consumers, according to a report published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

  • FairEmail is an open source, privacy-friendly email app

    As they say, Big Data is Big Money, and it’s hard to get around online these days. There are even toggles in the operating system themselves that let you disable location services but will continue storing your location data on their servers. Thankfully, Android is open source and many have gone for the pure AOSP flavor without letting any of Google’s code touch their device. That’s why it was interesting when XDA Recognized Developer M66B released an email application called FairEmail with the goal of being privacy-friendly.

    FairEmail is open source, available on GitHub, and even has a testing program available in the Play Store (as of the writing of this article, the program is not live). Some would assume this means the application is light on features, but FairEmail is feature packed. Check out the full list of features below.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Screenshots from the Console

        To access the command, open the Web Console via Tools → Web Developer → Console, type in :screenshot and press ENTER. A screenshot of the current document will be downloaded to your downloads directory.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 43
      • More on the RLS and a 1.0 release

        In my last post, I announced a release candidate for the RLS 1.0. There has been a lot of feedback (and quite a lot of that was negative on the general idea), so I wanted to expand on what 1.0 means for the RLS, and why I think it is ready. I also want to share some of my vision for the future of the RLS, in particular changes that might warrant a major version release.

      • Good First Bugs

        One great way (of many) to get started in software development, particularly in open source, is to find good first bugs. This is a class of software bugs (which should be called issues, since they’re not always bugs) that are easy to fix with little experience. It can also be a great way, once you have software development skills, to learn a new domain or set of tools. Many projects, even well funded ones, are very happy to receive community contributions, if nothing else it’s one other way they can provide opportunities to the community.

        At Mozilla we use bugzilla to track our bugs, and use the good first bug keyword to identify such bugs. You’re welcome to contribute patches for these bugs, and potentially have your work included in Firefox. You can also search by component, so the list of open good first bugs for the garbage collector is here and I’d be happy to help with any of these.

      • Let Firefox’s Side-View extension give you an edge for fantasy football, basketball, hockey and all the other sportsballs

        It’s that time of year again. When we find ourselves pouring over player rosters, reading frustratingly vague injury reports and trying to shake down our friends and colleagues to reveal how they’re planning to make their picks. Yes, with autumn just around the corner in the northern hemisphere it means that it’s time to make your fantasy sports league picks.

      • Share your favorite images and videos in VR with Mozilla Hubs

        Last April we released Mozilla Hubs, a VR chat system that lets you walk and talk in VR with your friends, no matter where in the world they are. Now we have a game changing new feature: you can share virtually any kind of media with everyone in your Hubs room by just pasting in a URL. Anything you share becomes a virtual object that everyone can interact with. From images to videos to 3D models, Hubs is the best way to collaborate across devices (laptops, phones, headsets) and OSes. Let’s look at a few details.

      • Thunderbird Monterail Themes Redux

        It just got easier to install the stylish Monterail themes in Thunderbird, the free and open source email client.

        The Monterail themes for Thunderbird were created last year by the open source community based on concept designs from a Polish design company.

        And they proved an instant hit.

      • Firefox DevEdition 62 Beta 18 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday August 17th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox DevEdition 62 Beta 18.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • New Mirantis Product Empowers Customers with Workload-Centric Cloud Configurations
    • Mirantis CEO: ‘Choose Your Cloud’ Using Open Source

      An update to Mirantis’ open source private cloud platform allows users to change their infrastructure to best suit individual workloads, Mirantis CEO Adrian Ionel says.

      The latest version of Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP) is built around the idea of a tuned infrastructure stack — a pre-defined configuration template that can be edited using a tool called infrastructure model designer. This software is built on top of open source tools including Cookiecutter, Reclass, and Salt. It allows operations teams to define cluster configuration using declarative scripting.

  • CMS
    • Overview of Popular Static Site Generators

      All static page generators have a single and seemingly straightforward task: to produce a static HTML file and all its assets.

       

      There are many obvious benefits to serving a static HTML file, such as easier caching, faster load times, and a more secure environment overall. Each static page generator produces the HTML output differently.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • FreeBSD & DragonFlyBSD Put Up A Strong Fight On AMD’s Threadripper 2990WX, Benchmarks Against Linux

      The past two weeks I have been delivering a great deal of AMD Threadripper 2990WX benchmarks on Linux as well as some against Windows and Windows Server. But recently I got around to trying out some of the BSD operating systems on this 32-core / 64-thread processor to see how they would run and to see whether they would have similar scaling issues or not like we’ve seen on the Windows side against Linux. In this article are FreeBSD and DragonFlyBSD benchmarks with the X399 + 2990WX compared to a few Linux distributions.

    • OpenSSH 7.8 released
    • DragonFlyBSD Gets Performance Tuning For Threadripper 2990WX Topology, Scheduler Tuning

      While it was just days ago that DragonFlyBSD lead developer Matthew Dillon got his hands on a Threadripper 2990WX 32-core / 64-thread “beast”, got it working under this long ago forked operating system from FreeBSD, and proceeded to exclaim with joy how powerful this system is, he’s now made it even better. Dillon has landed some additional kernel work to benefit the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX.

      On top of the kernel changes made at the end of last week to bring-up the 2990WX support, Matthew Dillon has now had the time to do some tuning to make this 64-thread system perform even faster. Hitting DragonFlyBSD Git overnight was a patch to update the AMD topology detection as seeing four nodes with eight cores and two threads per core, per node. Previously it was just exposed as a CPU with 32 cores and 2 threads per core.

      The DragonFly patch also now is able to expose how much memory is accessible from each node, an instability fix in the kernel’s scheduler when dealing with large core counts, and memory-on-node weighting in the scheduler.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Los Angeles County Officials Announce New Voting System For Upcoming Midterm Elections (VIDEO)

      The newly implemented system — named the Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) Tally Version 1.0 — is designed to improve and secure the ways in which Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots are counted, according to officials.

      “This is a significant milestone in our efforts to implement a new voting experience for the voters of Los Angeles County,” said Dean C. Logan, registrar-recorder/county clerk. “The VSAP Tally System will ensure that new Vote-by-Mail ballots cast in the upcoming November election will be counted accurately and securely.”

      The newly redesigned packets necessary for VSAP are scheduled to be distributed on Oct. 9, and are set to include the new full-face ballot, return envelope, secrecy sleeve and an “I voted” sticker, according to officials.

    • L.A. County first in state certified to use open-source election technology

      A new vote tally system in Los Angeles County was approved Tuesday, making it the first publicly owned, open-source technology certified under the California voting systems standards.

      Certification of the Voting Solutions for All People Tally, made by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, now allows the county to move forward with its newly redesigned vote by mail ballots for the Nov. 6 general election.

    • LA County will switch to all open source vote-counting machines

      California voting officials have certified an open source vote-counting package for use in the upcoming LA elections, in the first of a series of planned improvements to the County’s voting system (other plans include improved absentee voting ballots).

      It’s the first time in US history that vote-tallying will be done with open, public, universally auditable source-code. As an LA County resident, this makes me very happy.

    • Los Angeles County’s new ‘open source’ vote tallying system isn’t open source just yet
    • New Voting System Comes to LA County

      On Tuesday, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla certified Los Angeles County’s Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) Tally Version 1.0, making it the first publicly-owned, open-source election tally system certified under the California voting systems standards.

      “With security on the minds of elections officials and the public, open-source technology has the potential to further modernize election administration, security, and transparency,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “Los Angeles County’s VSAP vote tally system is now California’s first certified election system to use open-source technology. This publicly-owned technology represents a significant step in the future of elections in California and across the country.”

    • LA County gets open source election tally system

      California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has certified the first publicly owned, open-source election tally system under his state’s voting systems standards. Los Angeles County’s Voting Solutions for All People Tally Version 1.0 had to undergo rigorous functional and security testing by the secretary of state’s office and a certified voting testing lab.

      “Los Angeles County’s VSAP vote tally system is now California’s first certified election system to use open-source technology,” Padilla said. “This publicly-owned technology represents a significant step in the future of elections in California and across the country.” The certification of the VASP Tally solution allows Los Angeles County to move forward with its new redesigned VSAP vote-by-mail ballots for the November elections.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Redis has a license to kill: Open-source database maker takes some code proprietary

      Database maker Redis Labs this week moved the Redis Modules developed by the company from the AGPL to a license that combines Apache v2.0 with Commons Clause, which restricts the sale of covered software.

      The licensing change means that house-made Redis Modules – RediSearch, Redis Graph, ReJSON, ReBloom and Redis-ML – are no longer open-source software, as the term is generally defined. Instead, they become “source available.”

      Practically speaking, the new license limits the ability of cloud providers to offer these Redis Modules to customers; Redis Labs presumably aims to be the sole seller of services incorporating these add-ons. The Redis database code, however, remains under the BSD license.

      Redis Labs is not the only company to make such a change. In May, Neo4j, which makes the Neo4j graph database, added the Commons Clause to its AGPL license.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Understanding Niamey’s flood risk through open source mapping, drones, and modeling

        For thousands of years, the Niger River has been the lifeblood for not only Niger, but also its neighboring countries in the Niger River Basin. Yet, even as many Nigeriens depend on the mighty waterway for food, water, and livelihoods, the Niger River also poses a severe flood risk to the West African country during the rainy season. In the third quarter of 2017, widespread flooding due to heavy rains claimed the lives of over 50 people and displaced nearly 200,000.

        Lying on the banks of the Niger River, the Nigerien capital Niamey is especially vulnerable to flood risk. Poorly planned development in the city, which has contributed to land degradation and soil erosion, has only exacerbated the risk. To make matters even worse, many parts of Niamey, which has seen its population balloon to over one million people, lack proper drainage infrastructure.

  • Programming/Development
    • Codeplay Outs SYCL-Based ComputeCpp 1.0, Running Parallel C++ Code On Multiple Platforms

      Codeplay, the company behind tools like clspv for running OpenCL C code on Vulkan, today released ComputeCpp 1.0.

      ComputeCpp 1.0 is built upon the Khronos Group’s SYCL 1.2.1 standard and is designed to write standard C++ code for heterogeneous systems that in turn can run across processors and accelerators from a variety of vendors — in effect, everywhere.

    • New podcast interview

      Apparently August 2018 is Shamelessly Shill Yourself Month. I appeared on the IT in the D podcast last week. A fun time was had by all–well, at least by me. And that’s the important thing, right? We talked about my books, decades of IT, SSH, ed, and general nerdery.

Leftovers
  • Passport queues vex airlines

    Airlines and airports are starting to worry that the queues could discourage flying for business. Austerity is a primary cause of the waits, according to Andrew Charlton of Aviation Advocacy, a research firm based in Geneva. Since the 2007-09 financial crisis, air traffic has increased and budgets for passport controllers have been slashed. The number of passengers going through Britain’s airports has risen by a quarter since 2012, for example, but its border force’s budget has fallen by a tenth. America’s international passenger numbers have risen three times faster than its border-patrol budget in the same period.

  • Hardware
    • Fujitsu Presents Post-K CPU Specifications

      Fujitsu today announced publication of specifications for the A64FX™ CPU to be featured in the post-K computer, a supercomputer being developed by Fujitsu and RIKEN as a successor to the K computer, which achieved the world’s highest performance in 2011. The organizations are striving to achieve post-K application execution performance up to 100 times that of the K computer.

      A64FX is the world’s first CPU to adopt the Scalable Vector Extension (SVE), an extension of Armv8-A instruction set architecture for supercomputers. Building on over 60 years’ worth of Fujitsu-developed microarchitecture, this chip offers peak performance of over 2.7 TFLOPS, demonstrating superior HPC and AI performance.

    • Fujitsu unveils details on Post-K Supercomputer processor powered by ARM

      Today Fujitsu published specifications for the A64FX CPU to be featured in the post-K computer, a future machine designed to be 100 times faster than the legendary K computer that dominated the TOP500 for years.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • STI which rots genitals found in UK for first time

      A sexually transmitted disease which can rot the genitals has been detected in the UK for the first time.

      Rare STI Donovanosis is usually only found in tropical countries but there have now been three recorded incidents in the UK.

      The nasty bug causes genital ulcers to grow and spread. If left untreated flesh in the groin literally starts to eat itself.

      And according to a Freedom of Information request, submitted by online pharmacy chemist-4-u.com, the rare sexually transmitted disease Donovanosis has been diagnosed three times.

      Twice in Bolton and once in a woman, between the age of 15 and 25, in Southport in the past 12 months.

    • Negotiators On UN TB Resolution May Have A Deal

      Negotiators for a United Nations declaration on tuberculosis, meeting intensively in New York this week, may have reached agreement today on a key sticking point related to intellectual property, innovation and access to new medicines, according to sources. An agreement, if accepted by other delegations, could allow the text to proceed to the high-profile High-Level Meeting scheduled to take place at the UN General Assembly next month.

    • SCOTUS petition on HIV drug patents poses reputational as well as legal risks for pharma companies [Ed: The patent trolls' lobby IAM worries that the public might find out that patent greed harms health because SCOTUS looks into this matter.]

      The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) last week announced it had filed a petition asking the US Supreme Court to review lower courts’ decisions to dismiss its attempts to invalidate patents protecting a Gilead HIV treatment. It has asked the high court to determine the circumstances under which a party can file suit for declaratory judgment. A favourable decision for the foundation could have significant ramifications for pharmaceuticals patent litigation, clearing the path for federal court invalidity suits to be launched prior to ANDA filing by a generic competitor and by a wider range of potential plaintiffs.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • The Untold Story of NotPetya, the Most Devastating [Windows] Cyberattack in History

      The result was more than $10 billion in total damages, according to a White House assessment confirmed to WIRED by former Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert, who at the time of the attack was President Trump’s most senior cybersecurity-­focused official. Bossert and US intelligence agencies also confirmed in February that Russia’s military—the prime suspect in any cyberwar attack targeting Ukraine—was responsible for launching the malicious code. (The Russian foreign ministry declined to answer repeated requests for comment.)

    • Aussie gov bans Huawei and ZTE from supplying 5G kit

      The Australian government announced the ban on Thursday morning, just a day ahead of the country’s 5G auction, citing – unsurprisingly – concerns over national security.

    • Government Provides 5G Security Guidance To Australian Carriers
    • Kids at hacking conference show how easily US elections could be sabotaged

      The bad news is that it doesn’t really matter. While the actual risk of a hacker seizing thousands of voting machines and altering their records may be remote, the risk of a hacker casting the validity of an election into question through one of any number of other entry points is huge, and the actual difficulty of such an attack is child’s play. Literally.

    • Former Facebook security chief says it’s ‘too late’ to protect 2018 elections

      Facebook’s recently departed security chief says US government inaction has ensured that the upcoming midterm elections will be vulnerable to hacking and online manipulation campaigns.

    • Adobe Patches 2 Code Execution Vulnerabilities in Photoshop CC 2017 & 2018

      Hot off the discovery board is news of two important vulnerabilities that have been found in Adobe’s Photoshop CC versions 19.1.5 and prior for the 2018 edition and versions 18.1.5 and prior for the 2017 edition. The discovery of these vulnerabilities was made by a Fortinet security researcher, Kushal Arvind Shah, but nothing has been officially released in the level of detail expected for CVE vulnerabilities.

      It appears that a combined update has been rolled out through the Adobe Creative Cloud for the respective editions and versions of Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 / 2017 to patch the two found vulnerabilities. The flaws are seen to impact the said versions of the software on both the Windows operating system and the Apple Mac operating system.

    • New Mirai Variants Leverage Open Source Project [Ed: DarkReading looking to blame "Open Source" because yes, people can craft things with FOSS. Sometimes even malicious things.]

      Mirai, the IoT botnet responsible for enormous DDoS attacks in 2016, has continued to evolve: it’s now leveraging an open-source project named Aboriginal Linux to make cross-compiling the malicious code easier, more effective, and less prone to error.

    • Mirai leveraging Aboriginal Linux to target multiple platforms [Ed: Did Steve Ragan copy Catalin Cimpanu (below) or the other way around (almost identical spin)?]
    • Mirai IoT Malware Uses Aboriginal Linux to Target Multiple Platforms
    • Mirai botnet strikes again: This time it’s going after a specific open source project [Ed: So, long story short, devices with holes or hand-coded passwords in them are blamed on "Linux" and/or "Open Source"]
    • Vulnerability in OpenSSH “for two decades” (no, the sky isn’t falling!) [Ed: Responding to the likes of Catalin Cimpanu]

      The OpenSSH software came out of the super-security-conscious operating system project OpenBSD, the “free, functional and secure” operating system that boasts on its website that it’s suffered “only two remote holes in the default install, in a heck of a long time!”

      Compared to the average Linux distro, or Windows, or macOS, or pretty much any mobile phone you care to mention, that isn’t an idle boast, even if it’s not the sort of claim a traditional marketing department might go for.

    • Huawei slams Australia ban as being ‘politically motivated’

      Australia’s decision to ban Huawei Technologies from playing a role in the country’s 5G networks is “politically motivated, not the result of a fact-based, transparent, or equitable decision-making process”, a spokesperson from the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen says.

    • Huawei ban: China asks Australia to drop ‘ideological bias’

      The Chinese Government has told its Australian counterpart to get rid of its “ideological biases” and create a “fair environment” for business in the country in the wake of the 5G ban imposed on Chinese companies Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation.

    • Australia’s Huawei ban meant to please Uncle Sam

      For more than a few decades now, Huawei has been supplying telecommunications equipment to all parts of the world, 170 countries in all. Chances are that if there were any backdoors planted in that equipment, then some man or woman in some part of the world would have cottoned onto it.

    • Disable SMT/Hyperthreading in all Intel BIOSes

      Solving these bugs requires new cpu microcode, a coding workaround,
      *AND* the disabling of SMT / Hyperthreading.

      SMT is fundamentally broken because it shares resources between the two
      cpu instances and those shared resources lack security differentiators.
      Some of these side channel attacks aren’t trivial, but we can expect
      most of them to eventually work and leak kernel or cross-VM memory in
      common usage circumstances, even such as javascript directly in a
      browser.

      There will be more hardware bugs and artifacts disclosed. Due to the
      way SMT interacts with speculative execution on Intel cpus, I expect SMT
      to exacerbate most of the future problems.

    • Why the DNC Thought a Phishing Test Was a Real Attack [iophk: "turns out all the disinformation yesterday was just that -- disinformation; fat chance of the facts getting as much coverage though"]

      Lookout had alerted the DNC as well as DigitalOcean—the server company hosting the imposter—within hours of the fake site going live. The incident was initially touted as a success: A cyberespionage campaign thwarted before any data was stolen. Now, it instead raises questions about how a covert phishing simulation could have taken an understandably guarded group totally unaware.

    • Nearly half of English councils are using end of life server software

      Although the vast majority (between 88 and 94 per cent, depending on product) say that they intend to upgrade inside two years, by using such outdated software in the meantime, they continue to run the gauntlet of potential zero-day vulnerabilities with the power to bring down the entire infrastructure of the council.

    • Security updates for Friday
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Reality Winner, who pleaded guilty to leaking [sic] secret U.S. report, gets 63-month sentence

      Reality Winner, 26, pleaded guilty in June to a single count of transmitting national security information. The former Air Force translator worked as a contractor at a National Security Agency’s office in Augusta, Georgia, when she printed a classified report and left the building with it tucked into her pantyhose. Winner told the FBI she mailed the document to an online news outlet.

    • Reality Winner, leaker of secret report on Russian election hacking, gets more than 5 years for espionage [sic]

      “The vulnerability of the American electoral system is a national topic of immense gravity, but it took Winner’s act of bravery to bring key details of an attempt to compromise the democratic process in 2016 to public attention,” The Intercept’s statement continues. “Reality Winner’s courage and sacrifice for the good of her country should be honored, not punished.”

    • NSA leaker who mailed doc outlining Russian hacking gets 5 years in prison
    • Download Chicago’s Parking Ticket Data Yourself

      ProPublica Illinois has been reporting all year on how ticketing in Chicago is pushing tens of thousands of drivers into debt and hitting black and low-income motorists the hardest. Last month, as part of a collaboration with WBEZ, we reported on how a city decision to raise the cost of citations for not having a required vehicle sticker has led to more debt — and not much more revenue.

      We were able to tell these stories, in part, because we obtained the city of Chicago’s internal database for tracking parking and vehicle compliance tickets through a Freedom of Information request jointly filed by both news organizations. The records start in 2007, and they show you details on when and where police officers, parking enforcement aides, private contractors and others have issued millions of tickets for everything from overstaying parking meters to broken headlights. The database contains nearly 28.3 million tickets. Altogether, Chicago drivers still owe a collective $1 billion for these tickets, including late penalties and collections fees.

    • A first-timer’s guide to anonymously leaking information via SecureDrop

      Well, meet The IT Cooler. For there is no computer, printer or phone which I cannot jinx with my innate inability to log on, download, upload or any load, more or less.

      So, let me be frank, being tasked, as a guinea pig, with uploading a document to ICIJ’s SecureDrop did not fill the chambers of my heart with sparkledust.

      No, dear reader, I sallied forth with four heavy chambers in the center of my chest, certain in the knowledge that SecureDrop and I would never be BFFs. Never, ever.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
  • Finance
    • ‘We Don’t Want to See People Who Are Homeless in Our Cities’

      In the winter of 2017, seven people were arrested in Florida for the crime of serving food to homeless people in a public park. Media didn’t take much notice, though one wire report explained that while you might think feeding the hungry sounds good, it’s “actually a legally complicated matter that could violate laws and even send you to jail.”

    • Besieged Facebook Says New Ad Limits Aren’t Response to Lawsuits

      Facebook’s move to eliminate 5,000 options that enable advertisers on its platform to limit their audiences is unrelated to lawsuits accusing it of fostering housing and employment discrimination, the company said Wednesday.

      “We’ve been building these tools for a long time and collecting input from different outside groups,” Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne told ProPublica.

      Tuesday’s blog post announcing the elimination of categories that the company has described as “sensitive personal attributes” came four days after the Department of Justice joined a lawsuit brought by fair housing groups against Facebook in federal court in New York City. The suit contends that advertisers could use Facebook’s options to prevent racial and religious minorities and other protected groups from seeing housing ads.

      Raising the prospect of tighter regulation, the Justice Department said that the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which gives immunity to internet companies from liability for content on their platforms, did not apply to Facebook’s advertising portal. Facebook has repeatedly cited the act in legal proceedings in claiming immunity from anti-discrimination law. Congress restricted the law’s scope in March by making internet companies more liable for ads and posts related to child sex-trafficking.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Find out who’s manipulating you through Facebook political ads with ProPublica’s free tool
    • Facebook: Iran has been posting hundreds of fake pages since 2011
    • Louisiana Senate President Sank Ride-Sharing Bill. His Close Pal Sells Insurance to Cabs.

      Gordy Dove has begged Uber and Lyft to make their ride-sharing services available in Terrebonne Parish, where he serves as parish president.

      The sprawling coastal parish of 112,000 people is not easily walkable, and Dove worries about how students at colleges in the area will get home from the bars after they’ve had a few drinks.

      But the big ride-sharing companies aren’t coming to places like Houma, the parish’s biggest city, or many other parts of Louisiana anytime soon. That’s because Louisiana does not have legislation in place allowing them to operate. The state is one of only five that lacks such a law, instead requiring the companies to go through the costly and time-intensive process of getting approval in each locality.

      A bill to change that has garnered widespread and bipartisan support. It was backed by the governor, a Democrat, and sponsored by the House speaker, a Republican. It had 56 co-sponsors from both parties — nearly 40 percent of the state’s lawmakers — in both chambers and from all corners of the state. It was favored by the potent Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and other economic development groups.

    • Mass Media Is The Enemy Of The People Like The Cage Is The Enemy Of The Bird

      They say that Corbyn is a secret Nazi who loves antisemitism over and over and over again like it’s a real thing despite the complete absence of anything remotely resembling facts or evidence, then publish op-eds by ostensibly terrified mothers citing “accusations of antisemitism in the Labour party making headline news virtually every day” as the basis for her fear of her three year-old daughter winding up like Anne Frank. And then when this unconscionable behavior sees Corbyn decrying the mass media and pushing for reforms, the British press responds with headlines like “Corbyn is following the Donald Trump playbook on persecuting the media”.

    • Distorting Past and Present: Reuters on Nicaragua’s Armed Uprising

      From April 18 until late July 2018, an armed insurrection in Nicaragua left hundreds of people dead. The uprising, backed enthusiastically by private media outlets in Nicaragua (in particular one of its largest circulating newspapers, La Prensa, and the TV network 100%Noticias), was also supported by local NGOs funded by the US government through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The Trump administration and others (the EU parliament, UN officials) publicly backed the opposition’s version of events, as did Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his supporters were held responsible for the vast majority of the “protest”-related deaths, and Ortega (who had been re-elected in 2016) was pressured at first to resign outright, and later to hold “early elections.”

      I examined 45 Reuters news articles about the uprising in Nicaragua since April 18, as the London-based wire service, whose news articles are widely reprinted throughout English-language Western media, provides a good sense of the ostensible facts about the conflict as portrayed by corporate journalism. The story conveyed by Reuters is that the Sandinista government is opposed to democracy and human rights in Nicaragua, while the US government supports these things. Various other sources, which may provoke less distrust than a US government led by Donald Trump, were cited in support of this scenario. But a closer look at the picture presented by Reuters reveals numerous distortions about Nicaragua’s past and present.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • The Web-Hosting Service for Sex Workers, by Sex Workers, Against SESTA/FOSTA

      That need took on sudden urgency in 2018 when the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act came into effect. Alternately referred to as SESTA, FOSTA, or both (SESTA/FOSTA), these laws empower federal and state law-enforcement agencies to target websites that supposedly facilitate sex trafficking. But the legislation’s definition of trafficking is so broad that it has also ensnared sex workers who rely on digital platforms for their safety and livelihood. Sites that had previously been used by sex workers to vet clients, such as Backpage, were seized by the federal government; others, like Craigslist’s “Personals” sections, voluntarily shuttered; and now all kinds of online service providers, from social networks to blogging platforms, are booting users suspected of engaging in sex work.

    • Pakistan records protest with Netherlands against blasphemous cartoon competition

      The Foreign Office (FO) on Monday called the charge d’affaires of the Netherlands to record a protest against the “announcement by the leader of Dutch Freedom Party and Parliamentarian Geert Wilders to hold a competition of blasphemous caricatures.”

    • Sacrilegious sketches: Govt urged to sever diplomatic ties with the Netherlands

      The JI members gathered outside Peshawar Press Club. They burnt the flag of the Netherlands and portraits of a Dutch politician to express anger against the sacrilegious act.

      They were also holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans, asking the government to end diplomatic ties with the Netherlands.

    • Ban Trump, Twitter and Free Speech

      Chief among those opposing ideas they want silenced are Donald Trump’s. His remarks — from the silly, labeled unpresidential, to the more extreme labeled racist/sexist/misogynist/hateful — have attracted a surprising group of otherwise intelligent people demanding he be shut up.

    • Forget About Social Media Content Moderation; Get Ready For Internet Infrastructure Content Moderation

      The big topic du jour, of course, has been about content moderation on social media. But that may only be just the very beginning of where all of this heads. It didn’t get that much attention, but last week Microsoft threatened to take down all of Gab.ai based on some (really awful) posts on that site. Gab, if you don’t know, is the social network “alternative” that claims to be free speech supporting (even if that’s a bit of an exaggeration), when it really has basically become the home to all the assholes who have been kicked off of Twitter. It’s generally a cesspool of idiocy, so it’s not clear what suddenly inspired Microsoft — which hosts Gab on its Azure cloud platform — to suddenly speak up.

      As we’ve noted many times in the past, Microsoft, like any company, has certain rights, including First Amendment rights for what speech lives on its own computers and who it associates with. But, we’re talking about a different kind of ballgame when we start getting to the infrastructure level, rather than just talking about content moderation at the edge provider level. This hearkens back to the big post I did nearly a year ago when Cloudflare stopped providing service to the Daily Stormer. As I noted at the time, there were no easy answers, and the situation is incredibly complicated. Simply kicking bad services off the internet doesn’t make their hatred/ignorance/stupidity go away (and sometimes allows it to fester in even darker corners, where it can’t be monitored or countered).

      [...]

      And, as I wrote in last year’s post about the Cloudflare situation, I’m a lot more worried about infrastructure players suddenly deciding that they should have an editorial say as well, as that seems well beyond what role they should be playing. Yes, again, they have every right to stop working with services they dislike, but we should be discussing the potential impact of infrastructure players as censors. With edge services, one point that is regularly brought up is that if you don’t like how a service is running you can just go to another one or build your own. But that gets a lot more complicated when you get to the infrastructure level where you can’t just “build your own” and the number of options may be greatly limited.

      [...]

      Indeed, infrastructure providers are the next battleground, and we should start thinking about what that means earlier, rather than waiting until everything is a total mess.

    • Protecting Free Speech in Fearful Times

      In the absence of (1) people “capable of deliberating and choosing on the basis of knowledge,” (2) access to “authentic information,” and (3) evaluation based on “autonomous thought,” Marcuse argued that democracy veered towards a form of totalitarianism (pp. 95, 97): Under democracy “with totalitarian organization,” he observed, “radically negative news” is relegated to “an obscure place” and commitments to impartiality and objectivity unintentionally foster “a mental attitude which tends to obliterate the difference between true and false, information and indoctrination, right and wrong” (97).

      Recent controversies remind us all too clearly that anyone interested in promoting free speech must contend with the possibility that some speakers will abuse their license to it by making unthinking or dangerous remarks that could weaken or demolish democracy. Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones, for example, have made careers for themselves by manufacturing controversy in order to generate attention. Jones has said that decisions by Facebook and other social media platforms to limit his access are part of “a war on free speech.” Similarly, as Steve Coll has observed in the New Yorker, Donald Trump and his far-right allies have “vigorously exploited the neutrality of social-media platforms.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • ICANN appeals German court injunction rejection

      The internet overseer says the court was wrong to rule that it did not “sufficiently explain” or provide a “credible reason” why it wanted to force one of its registrars to collect data on new registrants

    • Facebook violates Apple’s data-gathering rules, pulls VPN from App Store

      Facebook is the latest company to violate Apple’s new app guidelines surrounding data collection. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook pulled Onavo Protect, a VPN app, from Apple’s App Store after the iPhone maker determined that Onavo violated its data-collection rules.

    • Facebook Removed Their Spying VPN From The App Store (But It’s Still on Google Play)

      Facebook removed Onavo—a free VPN run by the social networking company—from the iOS App Store today. The voluntary move by Facebook was prompted by discussions with Apple about privacy policy.

      Onavo promises to help “secure your personal details” on the product’s website, but the VPN service exists primarily so Facebook can monitor user activity on rival sites. In other words, Facebook uses it to spy on you.

    • Facebook Removes Data-Security App From Apple Store

      Facebook Inc. pulled its data-security app from Apple Inc.’s app store after the iPhone maker ruled that the service violated its data-collection policies, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    • Apple Removes Facebook’s VPN App From App Store

      Apple has removed Facebook’s VPN app Onavo Protect after it violated Apple’s data collection policies.

      As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Apple warned Facebook that the VPN app does not comply with the new privacy rules set up in June this year. The latest set of regulations are charted to limit the data harvested by third-party apps.

    • Don’t Shoot Messenger

      Late last week, Reuters reported that Facebook is being asked to “break the encryption” in its Messenger application to assist the Justice Department in wiretapping a suspect’s voice calls, and that Facebook is refusing to cooperate. The report alarmed us in light of the government’s ongoing calls for backdoors to encrypted communications, but on reflection we think it’s unlikely that Facebook is being ordered to break encryption in Messenger and that the reality is more complicated.

      The wiretap order and related court proceedings arise from an investigation of the MS-13 gang in Fresno, California and is entirely under seal. So while we don’t know exactly what method for assisting with the wiretap the government is proposing Facebook use, if any, we can offer our informed speculation based on how Messenger works. This post explains our best guess(es) as to what’s going on, and why we don’t think this case should result in a landmark legal precedent on encryption.

    • Chinese Surveillance State Is Basically The US Surveillance Apparatus Minus The Constitutional Rights

      Reuters has a long, detailed examination of the Chinese surveillance state. China’s intrusion into the lives of its citizens has never been minimal, but advances in technology have allowed the government to keep tabs on pretty much every aspect of citizens’ lives.

      Facial recognition has been deployed at scale and it’s not limited to finding criminals. It’s used to identify regular citizens as they go about their daily lives. This is paired with license plate readers and a wealth of information gathered from online activity to provide the government dozens of data points for every citizen that wanders into the path of its cameras. Other biometric information is gathered and analyzed to help the security and law enforcement agencies better pin down exactly who it is they’re looking at.

    • Who Is Answering My Queries: Understanding and Characterizing Interception of the DNS Resolution Path

      In this paper, we perform a large-scale analysis of on-path DNS interception and shed light on its scope and characteristics. We design novel approaches to detect DNS interception and leverage 148,478 residential and cellular IP addresses around the world for analysis. As a result, we find that 259 of the 3,047 ASes (8.5%) that we inspect exhibit DNS interception behavior, including large providers, such as China Mobile. Moreover, we find that the DNS servers of the ASes which intercept requests may use outdated vulnerable software (deprecated before 2009) and lack security-related functionality, such as handling DNSSEC requests. Our work highlights the issues around on-path DNS interception and provides new insights for addressing such issues.

    • Court rules that you need a warrant to read someone’s smart meter

      A US JUDGE has ruled that any data collected by smart meters is protected by the Fourth Amendment, meaning any examination of that data constitutes a government search requirement.

    • Chrome’s anonymous browsing feature isn’t as secret as we assumed

      A researcher from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee found that although the data collected appears to be anonymised, in reality, Google can retroactively identify it from the usernames and other account data used during the session.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Women don’t have penises

      In Britain it might soon be a crime to express this scientific fact.

      Is it now a crime to tell the truth in Britain? It’s heading that way. At the weekend it was revealed that Merseyside Police are making ‘enquiries’ into a trans-sceptical group that distributed stickers saying ‘Women don’t have penises’. Yes, that’s right: the police, the actual police, are investigating a group for expressing what the vast majority of people consider to be a biological, social, actual fact: that if you have a penis you are not a female. What next: arrest people for saying the sky is blue or that Piers Morgan is a muppet?

    • Rotherham: the silencing of Muslim voices

      Rotherham is a town whose very name has become synonymous with the horrific cases of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) which have occurred there in recent years. The media narrative around these cases – appalling crimes committed by a tiny minority of the population – is so powerful that it has been extremely difficult to challenge or even question. However as Islamophobia escalates to an unprecedented level with Boris Johnson’s comments emboldening the far right and racists and poisonous tropes of Muslims as terrorists and sexual predators sweep the country, it becomes particularly important to do so.

      Once a thriving town built round coal mines and steel, Rotherham today is a bleak place. The coal mines are closed and the steel industry is in decline. Unemployment is high. However, as many people emphasise, until six or seven years ago, racial violence had never been an issue. The comparatively small Pakistani community had lived cheek by jowl with white people. As playwright Emteaz Hussain puts it, “we were a working class community struggling to make ends meet, everyone lived in close proximity, and we naturally found a way of getting on.”

    • Alabama Abortion Decision Raises Alarms Ahead of Kavanaugh Hearings

      This week, a federal appeals court struck down Alabama’s ban on a safe, medically proven abortion method. The decision shows just how high the stakes are ahead of next month’s Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

      In recent years, anti-abortion politicians across the country have enacted hundreds of dangerous restrictions aimed at preventing women from obtaining abortions. Alabama has been at the forefront of this coordinated national campaign, with politicians there enacting a multitude of restrictions designed to make it impossible for a woman to get the medical care she needs.

      The latest legal battle concerned Alabama’s ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions. On Wednesday, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court order invalidating the ban. The statute we challenged in the case, West Alabama Women’s Center v. Miller, made it a crime for physicians to provide D&E abortions. Had Alabama been permitted to enforce the ban, it would have prevented hundreds of women each year from being able to have an abortion, because D&E is the only outpatient procedure that is available after the earliest weeks of the second trimester. As the trial court that heard the case explained, the state could not “justify such a substantial obstacle to the constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy.” The Eleventh Circuit judges affirmed that decision, explaining that their “role is to apply the law the Supreme Court has laid down,” and as a result of previous Supreme Court’s decisions, the Alabama statute plainly could not stand.

    • Michigan teacher who runs porn site under investigation

      The Michigan Court of Appeals had ruled that a public school teacher can’t be fired for private behavior that doesn’t adversely affect students, the Free Press reported at the time.

    • Looking at the Archives From the Time of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and Seeing Familiar Themes

      This week, ProPublica Illinois reporter Mick Dumke wrote a column about the letters people sent to Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley after the 1968 Democratic National Convention, held in the city, praising him for how he and the police handled protesters. Amid demonstrations, violence broke out, and Daley attacked the press for its coverage of those events.

      In one letter that touches on what the convention came to represent, a national simmering point of truth, facts, police violence and Chicago’s reputation, the manager of the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band — the “official band of Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade” — thanked Daley and said “we regret” the “biased coverage of the television media.”

      “We will do whatever we can as individuals and as a band to keep Chicago where it should be — the leading city in the nation — in education, in economic growth and in social justice,” the letter read.

      An independent report found that police violence was “often inflicted upon persons who had broken no law, disobeyed no order, made no threat.” And it concluded that Chicago police and Daley specifically targeted journalists during the clashes.

    • When They Decide to Get You

      Alex Salmond’s jeopardy has caused me a dreadful shudder of recognition and empathy. I too was accused of hideous offences under a civil service disciplinary code and barred from taking any action to defend myself. I was not allowed to speak to anybody at all about the charges, and particularly not allowed to know the identity of my accusers, or to organise witnesses in my defence – which appears the exact procedure which Alex Salmond now, with absolute justice, complains of. These Civil Service disciplinary investigations are contrary to all rules of natural justice, and designed to facilitate executive stitch-ups, not to uncover the truth.

      As with Alex Salmond, some of the accusations against me were hideous – offering visas in exchange for sex, for example. They were so hideous that the mental anguish of not being permitted to take any normal steps to defend myself caused me a mental breakdown. I know what Salmond must be feeling. I received psychiatric treatment in St Thomas’ Hospital for a condition called “learnt helplessness” – meaning it was the dreadful experience of having things done to me which I was not permitted to take any normal steps to counter, which caused my clinical depression.

      The charges against me were entirely fake and entirely vexatious, even malicious, issued after I had objected to British complicity in torture in the “War on Terror”, which the government denied at the time, calling me a liar, though now admits. The charges were designed to destroy my reputation. You can read the full story in my book “Murder in Samarkand”, widely available in libraries. I believe it conveys the anguish that “learnt helplessness” can cause.

      To be plain, I was told not to reveal the existence of the charges to anybody at all and specifically forbidden from contacting witnesses. Nevertheless the charges were such obvious nonsense they eventually collapsed and I was found not guilty of all eighteen charges – but found guilty of breaking the order to keep the charges secret, in organising my defence. Not keeping the charges secret is the only disciplinary offence of which I was ever convicted.

      The extreme Kafkaesque nature of this is only increased by the fact that the government themselves had revealed the charges in the widest possible manner, by leaking them to the Daily Mail, in the effort to permanently ruin my reputation. A number of the charges were sexual, such as having a secret flat to entertain prostitutes – again, totally untrue, but great for the tabloids. The use of false sexual allegations to destroy threats to the political elite is routinely deployed – Alex Salmond joins Julian Assange, Tommy Sheridan (whose recent court victories against the Murdoch press went totally unreported), Scott Ritter and myself among recent victims of this tactic.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • California’s Resurrected Net Neutrality Bill Just Passed a Major Hurdle
    • Just Because The Internet Didn’t Implode The Day After Repeal Doesn’t Mean Killing Net Neutrality Was A Good Idea

      By now we’ve well established that the FCC ignored the public, ignored the experts, and ignored all objective data when it killed net neutrality rules at the behest of telecom monopolies.

      While the vote to kill the rules occurred last year, the rules didn’t technically die until last June 11. And one common refrain by Pai and pals (and many folks who don’t understand how the broken telecom market works) is that because the internet didn’t immediately collapse upon itself post-repeal in a rainbow-colored explosion, that the repeal itself must not be that big of a deal. For example, Ajit Pai tried to make that point again last week at an FCC oversight hearing that was severely lacking in the actual oversight department.

    • Verizon Incompetence and Greed Leaves Firefighters Throttled During Wildfire

      As part of the settlement, Verizon was forced to reimburse consumers to the tune of $1 million after a nine-month investigation found it was advertising wireless connections as “unlimited,” but then kicking users off of the Verizon Wireless network for “excessive use”—without disclosing the hidden limits of these connections.

      Ten years later and it’s not clear that Verizon has learned much of anything from the experience.

      The company made headlines again this week after a brief filed by net neutrality advocates highlighted that Verizon had throttled the “unlimited” data connection of the Santa Clara County Fire Department as it struggled to battle the Mendocino Complex Fire, one of the largest forest fires in California’s history.

    • Verizon’s Throttling of Fire Fighters Could Go Unpunished Because the FCC Repealed the Open Internet Order

      People are mad about the revelation that Verizon throttled the wireless service of the Santa Clara Fire Department in the middle of fighting a massive fire. In response, Verizon is making the very narrow claim that this wasn’t a clear violation of the 2015 Open Internet Order’s ban on throttling. That intentionally misses the point. The 2015 order, by reclassifying ISPs under Title II of the Federal Communications Act, would have likely made what happened with the fire department illegal.

      Under the 2015 Open Internet Order, the Federal Communications Commission did two things. First, it established that all broadband Internet service providers were common carriers subject to the federal laws that protect consumers, promote competition, and guard user privacy. Second, it established a set of “net neutrality” rules based on its Title II authority through the bright line rules of “no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization” as well as a general conduct rule.

    • History of Gopher
    • Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, turns 30

      Internet Relay Chat, better known by its acronym IRC, is celebrating a birthday. In fact this year the chat protocol is turning 30, University of Oulu, the birthplace of IRC, reports.
      IRC was developed in University of Oulu in Finland in the late 80s. The messaging platform was created in the Computer Science department as a replacement for their BBS-based messaging platform called MultiUser Talk, or MUT.

      In August of 1988, exact date unknown, Computer Science student Jarkko Oikarinen released IRC, both server and client software, that he had developed over the summer. The first server was run by a Sun-3 computer in the Department of Information Processing Science lab.

    • Internet chat system IRC turns thirty

      IRC (Internet Relay Chat) was born at the Department of Information Processing Science of the University of Oulu 30 years ago. Jarkko Oikarinen developed the internet chat system back in 1988 in addition to his summer job. Today, people are still using IRC.

    • Senate Commerce Committee Holds FCC Oversight Hearing to Discuss Net Neutrality and Rural Broadband Deployment

      Last week the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing to conduct oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Although there was the typical overblown bickering over the FCC’s action on net neutrality rules taken in recent months under FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that one might expect, much of the day’s hearing focused on the poor quality of current broadband coverage maps employed by the FCC in distributing subsidies as well as the need to improve rural broadband deployment to reach millions of Americans living in rural communities.

    • Karl Grossman on Space Force, Evan Greer on Net Neutrality Cyber Fraud

      This week on CounterSpin: A popular internet meme says, “I have a question about Space Force; when is Flint getting clean water?” But while social media reflect complaints that the Trump administration’s plans to “address space as a developing war-fighting domain,” as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has it, will mean still more resources channeled away from social programs to Warmongering, Inc., that line of questioning has so far had little place in corporate media coverage.

      We’ll talk about the prospect of war in space with longtime FAIR associate Karl Grossman, journalism professor at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and author of the books Weapons in Space and The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet, among others.

  • DRM
    • GOG Launches FCKDRM to Promote DRM-Free Art and Media

      GOG, the digital distribution platform for DRM-free video games and video, has launched a new initiative designed to promote content without embedded DRM. While Digital Rights Management is seen by many companies as necessary to prevent piracy, GOG believes that its restrictions are anti-consumer and run counter to freedoms that should exist alongside content ownership.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Japan to extend design patent term by five years in bid to spark corporate creativity

      The Japan Patent Office (JPO) will ask the country’s legislature to extend design patent protection to 25 years during its next session, according to a report in Nikkei. The policy change has a dual aim of making Japanese companies more brand-conscious and enhancing coverage for innovations that combine visual and technical features, such as user interfaces.

    • A 5G iPhone will cost Apple about $21 in licensing fees to Nokia, Qualcomm, and others

      Nokia on Wednesday announced a flat, 3 euro ($3.48) per-device licensing fee for its 5G standards-essential patents, according to VentureBeat. That contrasts with Ericsson, which is charging on a sliding scale between $2.50 and $5 based on the cost of a device.

      Qualcomm, however, is licensing its 5G patents at 2.275 percent of a single-mode phone’s total price, and 3.25 percent for multi-mode phones, albeit with a $400 price cap.

      A modern smartphone could potentially be saddled with over $21 in combined royalty payments. Around $13 will go to Qualcomm regardless of any current spats.

    • Copyrights
      • Movie Company Sues Post-Production Studio For $5 Million For Leaking ‘Kickboxer’ Film That Grossed $5k Domestically

        It is no revelation that film studios have been in a sustained freakout for years over films that leak to the internet before they hit the theaters. While the freakout is somewhat understandable (nobody wants to plan out a film release only to have the product appear in a way outside those well-laid plans), much of the reasoning in the freakouts has to do with claims that the leaks eat into the profits the company would generate at the theater. This reasoning has been debunked many times over, most notably by AAA movies that leak online still making a killing at the box office. What should be immediately apparent is that much of this is driven by emotion and outrage rather than anything resembling facts or clear-thinking.

Links 23/8/2018: Mesa 18.2 RC4 Released, Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 Released

Thursday 23rd of August 2018 11:19:17 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • The Back to School sale is on!

    For some of you, it is a time to return your educational institution and continue the important process of learning about the world around you—maybe for some of you it is the first time being part of higher education, while some of you might be long-time academic researchers and associates. For those who are sick of their thick laptops weighing down on their backpacks and who would also want something with security in mind, what better way to start the school year than with a Purism laptop?!

  • Desktop
    • Google Makes it Easier to Run Linux Apps on Chromebooks

      Have you been patiently waiting for the ability to run Linux apps on your Chromebook since word of Crostini first surfaced?

      If so, your patience is about to be well rewarded.

      Google is preparing to roll out this exciting Chrome OS feature as part of its next OS update, giving more users the opportunity to install and run Linux apps on their Chromebook.

    • This Week In Chrome: #madebygoogle Chromebooks, Linux Apps And We Get A Facelift

      The “Crostini Project” that brought Linux apps to Chromebooks has seemingly accelerated in development as of late. What appeared to be a developer-centric experiment, has quickly spread to a large number of Chrome devices and has already moved into the Beta Channel of Chrome OS.

      You can now install Linux apps on dozens of Chromebook models by the flipping a switch in the Beta channel and executing a few simple lines of code. Even more exciting is the fact that support for Debian files is here meaning you can simply download the application file you want and double-click to install just like you would on any other OS.

      If that’s not enough, you can even install the Gnome Software Center and install apps from the “store.” All of these combined will surely bring Linux apps to the forefront of Chrome OS’s usability and versatility.

    • Chrome OS 69 Will Finally Bring Linux Apps to Chromebooks, Night Light Support

      Chrome OS is Google’s Linux-based operating system for Chromebook devices, and the tech giant is currently testing support for installing and running Linux apps on Chrome OS, a feature that will be introduced to the masses with the next stable release of the operating system, Chrome OS 69, though it’ll still be available in a beta form.

      “Linux (Beta) for Chromebooks allows developers to use editors and command-line tools by adding support for Linux on a Chrome device,” said Google in the release notes. “After developers complete the set up, they’ll see a terminal in the Chrome launcher. Developers can use the terminal to install apps or packages, and the apps will be securely sandboxed inside a virtual machine.”

    • My 3 favorite Linux releases

      For the 25th anniversary of the Linux kernel, I gave a 25 years of Linux in 5 minutes lightning talk at All Things Open in Raleigh. As we approach the kernel’s 27th anniversary, I’d like to take a stroll down memory lane and look back at the three releases that have been most significant to me.

    • Google confirms many older Chromebooks won’t get Linux apps, including the 2015 Chromebook Pixel

      Google announced earlier this year that Linux apps would eventually be supported on Chrome OS. The feature has been available for months in the Canary and Dev channels, and now works on a variety of Chromebooks from multiple manufacturers. A merged pull request on the Chromium Gerrit now confirms that any device running the Linux kernel 3.14 (or older) will never get Linux app support.

      For context, Linux apps on Chrome OS run in a protected container, to prevent malicious software from interfering with the main system. This container requires features only found in recent versions of the Linux kernel, like vsock (which was added in Linux 4.8). Chromebooks usually stick with whatever kernel version they are shipped with, and many popular models are running older versions too old for containers.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.18.4
    • Linux 4.17.18
    • Linux 4.14.66
    • Linux 4.9.123
    • Linux 4.4.151
    • Linus Torvalds On Linux 4.19: “This Merge Window Has Been Horrible”

      While Linux 4.19 is slated to have a lot of new features as we have been covering now the past week and a half, Linus Torvalds is upset with these big pull requests and some of them being far from perfect — to the extent of being rejected.

      “So this merge window has been horrible,” began Torvalds’ latest kernel mailing list post. He went on to explain how he is not going to pull XArray support for Linux 4.19. He got turned off when he was going to look at the code because the XArray pull request was based upon the libnvdimm tree, which were changes Torvalds decided against pulling this cycle anyhow due to code quality concerns. And it was not communicated in the pull request why the XArray pull request was based against the libnvdimm changes, which led to another one of Torvalds’ famous email blasts.

    • More Tablet Touchscreen Support & ThinkPad Calculator Key Support Come To Linux 4.19

      The x86 platform driver work was merged today for the Linux 4.19 kernel merge window.

      Unless you were affected by one of the quirky devices now fixed up by the platform-drivers-x86 work, it mostly comes down to a random collection of hardware fixes and improvements. The changes range from the ThinkPad ACPI driver enabling support for the calculator key on at least some Lenovo laptops to the ASUS WMI drivers recognizing the lid flip event on the UX360 ZenBook Flip.

    • F2FS Enables Discard By Default, Performance Enhancements

      Jaegeuk Kim, the creator and lead developer of the Flash-Friendly File-System (F2FS), has finally submitted the big feature updates slated for the Linux 4.19 kernel merge window.

    • The importance of being noisy

      Hundreds (at least) of kernel bugs are fixed every month. Given the kernel’s privileged position within the system, a relatively large portion of those bugs have security implications. Many bugs are relatively easily noticed once they are triggered; that leads to them being fixed. Some bugs, though, can be hard to detect, a result that can be worsened by the design of in-kernel APIs. A proposed change to how user-space accessors work will, hopefully, help to shine a light on one class of stealthy bugs.

      Many system calls involve addresses passed from user space into the kernel; the kernel is then expected to read from or write to those addresses. As long as the calling process can legitimately access the addressed memory, all is well. Should user space pass an address pointing to data it should not be able to access — a pointer into kernel space, for example — bad things can happen.

    • The mismatched mount mess

      “Mounting” a filesystem is the act of making it available somewhere in the system’s directory hierarchy. But a mount operation doesn’t just glue a device full of files into a specific spot in the tree; there is a whole set of parameters controlling how that filesystem is accessed that can be specified at mount time. The handling of these mount parameters is the latest obstacle to getting the proposed new mounting API into the mainline; should the new API reproduce what is arguably one of the biggest misfeatures of the current mount() system call?

      The list of possible mount options is quite long. Some of them, like relatime, control details of how the filesystem metadata is managed internally. The dos1xfloppy option can be used with the FAT filesystem for that all-important compatibility with DOS 1.x systems. The ext4 bsddf option tweaks how free space is reported in the statfs() system call. But some options can have significant security implications. For example, the acl and noacl options control whether access control lists (ACLs) are used on the filesystem; turning off ACLs by accident on the wrong filesystem risks exposing files that should not be accessible.

    • New Intel Caching Feature Considered for Mainline

      Reinette Chatre of Intel posted a patch for a new chip feature called Cache Allocation Technology (CAT), which “enables a user to specify the amount of cache space into which an application can fill”. Among other things, Reinette offered the disclaimer, “The cache pseudo-locking approach relies on generation-specific behavior of processors. It may provide benefits on certain processor generations, but is not guaranteed to be supported in the future.”

      Thomas Gleixner thought Intel’s work looked very interesting and in general very useful, but he asked, “are you saying that the CAT mechanism might change radically in the future [that is, in future CPU chip designs] so that access to cached data in an allocated area which does not belong to the current executing context wont work anymore?”

      Reinette replied, “Cache Pseudo-Locking is a model-specific feature so there may be some variation in if, or to what extent, current and future devices can support Cache Pseudo-Locking. CAT remains architectural.”

    • RT Microconference Accepted into 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference

      We are pleased to announce that the RT Microconference has been accepted into the 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference! The Real-Time patch (also known as PREEMPT_RT) has been developed out of tree since 2004. Although it hasn’t yet been fully merged, several enhancements came to the Linux kernel directly as the result of the RT patch. These include, mutexes, high resolution timers, lockdep, ftrace, RT scheduling, SCHED_DEADLINE, RCU_PREEMPT, cross-arch generic interrupt logic, priority inheritance futexes, threaded interrupt handlers, to name a few. All that is left is the conversion of the kernel spinning locks into mutexes, and the transformation is complete. There’s talk about that happening by the end of this year or early next year.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Building in the Open: ONS Europe Demos Highlight Networking Industry Collaboration

        LF Networking (LFN), launched on January 1st of this year, has already made a significant impact in the open source networking ecosystem gaining over 100 members in the just the first 100 days. Critically, LFN has also continues to attract support and participation from many of the world’s top network operators, including six new members announced in May: KT, KDDI, SK Telecom, Sprint, Swisscom; and Deutsche Telekom announced just last month. In fact, member companies of LFN now represent more than 60% of the world’s mobile subscribers. Open source is becoming the de facto way to develop software and it’s the technical collaboration at the project level that makes it so powerful.

        Similar to the demos in the LFN Booth at ONS North America, the LFN Booth at ONS Europe will once again showcase the top, community-led, technical demos from the LFN family of projects. We have increased the number of demo stations from 8 to 10, and for the first time, are showcasing demos from the big data analytics project PNDA, and demos that include the newly added LFN Project, Tungsten Fabric (formerly OpenContrail). Technology from founding LFN Projects FD.io, ONAP, OPNFV, and OpenDaylight will also be represented, along with adjacent projects like Acumos, Kubernetes, OpenCI, Open Compute Project, and OpenStack.

        Building on the Virtual Central Office demo shown at the OPNFV Summit last year, a team from Red Hat and 10+ participating companies, including China Mobile, have expanded to show a mobile access network configuration using vRAN for the LTE RAN and vEPC built in open source. Another demo showcasing collaboration from 10+ companies, Orange will showcase their Orange OpenLab which is based on several LFN projects. OpenLab allows for the management of CI/CD pipelines, and provides a stable environment for developers. Other operator-led demos include CCVPN (Cross Domain and Cross Layer VPN), from China Mobile and Vodafone, that demonstrates ONAP orchestration capability; and a demo from AT&T showcasing the design, configuration, and deployment of a closed loop instance acting on a VNF (vCPE).

      • ​Cloud Foundry survey finds top enterprise languages

        Programmers may love hot newer languages like Kotlin and Rust, but according to a Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) recent survey of global enterprise developers and IT decision makers, Java and Javascript are the top dog enterprise languages.

        [...]

        This is coming hand-in-glove with the growth of cloud-native development. Multi-cloud users, for example, report using more developer languages, but the majority uses Java and JavaScript, followed by 50 percent saying they use C++.

        The CFF’s results are confirmed by RedMonk’s recent language rankings. RedMonk also placed Java and JavaScript at the top tier of development languages. Java is alive and well.

        In contrast to CFF’s findings, however, RedMonk found Python and PHP used more frequently than C# and C++, but only marginally. As RedMonk’s Stephen O’Grady wrote, “the numerical ranking is substantially less relevant than the language’s tier or grouping.” All four of these languages are alive and well.

      • The Linux Foundation Is Changing The Fabric Of Networking
      • Windmill Enterprise Joins the Linux Foundation

        Windmill Enterprise, developer of the Cognida network and platform with a focus on enterprise blockchain innovation, joined the Linux Foundation this week, and two projects – the Linux Foundation Networking community and EdgeX Foundry.

        Windmill joins existing Linux Foundation members like AT&T, Google, IBM and DellEMC, and companies including Samsung and Analog Devices who are working collaboratively with the EdgeX Foundry community to address complex issues at the edge of IoT and Industrial IoT networks.

        When mobile blockchain meets edge computing, IoT and IIoT developers have a decentralized data management framework available. Despite their being thousands of projects using blockchain in service today in finance, healthcare and logistics, its application in mobile services including IoT remains nascent.

      • Open Metrics Project Comes to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is expanding its roster, announcing that it has accepted the Open Metrics project as a Sandbox effort.

        The CNCF Sandbox is a place for early-stage projects, and it was first announced in March. The Sandbox replaces what had originally been called the Inception project level.

        With Open Metrics, Richard Hartmann, technical architect at SpaceNet, Prometheus team member, and founder of OpenMetrics, aims to bring useful metrics to cloud-native deployments. At its core, Open Metrics is an effort to develop a neutral metrics exposition format.

        “OpenMetrics does not limit or define what metrics to send, on purpose,” Hartmann told ServerWatch. “What it does do is define an efficient way to transport those metrics over the wire, and a flexible and powerful way to attach information to them: label sets.”

    • Graphics Stack
      • Collabora’s Mesa EGLDevice Work To Better Support Multiple GPUs

        As covered earlier this month, Emil Velikov at Collabora has been working on EGLDevice support for Mesa. These EGL extensions originally developed by NVIDIA are being pursued by Mesa developers for better dealing with the enumeration and querying of multiple GPUs on a system.

        Right now there is the DRI_PRIME environment variable to allow toggling between systems primarily with two GPUs (namely, Optimus notebooks have been the main use-case) but using EGLDevice support by the Mesa drivers the matter of GPU selection for OpenGL rendering can be made by the application/toolkit developer and for other scenarios like multi-GPU systems running without a display server.

      • NVIDIA 396.54 Linux Driver Released To Fix A OpenGL/Vulkan Performance Bug

        One day after announcing the GeForce RTX 2070/2080 series, NVIDIA has released a new Linux driver. But it’s not a major new driver branch at this time (that’s presumably coming closer to the 20 September launch date) with the Turing GPU support, but is a point release delivering a practical bug fix.

        The sole change listed in today’s NVIDIA 396.54 driver update is, “Fixed a resource leak introduced in the 390 series of drivers that could lead to reduced performance after starting and stopping several OpenGL and/or Vulkan applications.”

      • Why Linux’s Direct Rendering Manager Won’t Add A Generic 2D Acceleration API

        Daniel Vetter of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center team has written his first blog post in a while on Linux graphics. In this latest post he is answering why there isn’t a 2D user-space API in the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) code.

        While Linux DRM has advanced on many fronts in the past few years, it doesn’t offer any generic 2D acceleration API. The reasons for that come down to there being no 2D acceleration standard akin to OpenGL/Vulkan for 3D (granted, there’s OpenVG for vector graphics and some other limited alternatives, but nothing as dominant), each hardware blitter engine being different, and other complexities that make 2D acceleration harder than one might otherwise think.

      • Vetter: Why no 2D Userspace API in DRM?

        On his blog, Daniel Vetter answers an often-asked question about why the direct rendering manager (DRM) does not have a 2D API (and won’t in the future)…

      • Why no 2D Userspace API in DRM?

        The DRM (direct rendering manager, not the content protection stuff) graphics subsystem in the linux kernel does not have a generic 2D accelaration API. Despite an awful lot of of GPUs having more or less featureful blitter units. And many systems need them for a lot of use-cases, because the 3D engine is a bit too slow or too power hungry for just rendering desktops.

        It’s a FAQ why this doesn’t exist and why it won’t get added, so I figured I’ll answer this once and for all.

      • mesa 18.2.0-rc4

        The forth release candidate for the Mesa 18.2.0 is now available.

        As per the issue tracker [1] we still have a number of outstanding bugs blocking the release.

      • Mesa 18.2-RC4 Released Due To Open Graphics Driver Bugs

        The fourth release candidate of Mesa 18.2 is out today rather than the final release due to open blocker bugs still persisting.

        Mesa 18.2-RC4 ships with 18 fixes ranging from GLSL compiler fixes, RADV Vulkan driver fixes, some Intel i965 work, EGL on Android, and various other not too notable bug fixes.

      • NVIDIA Talks Up GeForce RTX 2080 Series Performance, But No Linux Mentions

        -
        On Monday NVIDIA introduced the GeForce RTX 20 series while today they have begun making some more performance details of these Turing-powered GPUs succeeding the GeForce GTX 1000 “Pascal” series.

        NVIDIA has posted about how with the RTX 2080 graphics card it’s now possible to game at 60 FPS at 4K with HDR capabilities. They have also shared some relative performance metrics of the GTX 1080 vs. RTX 2080 vs. RTX 2080 with select games where their deep-learning DLSS is supported.

      • NVIDIA RTX / Ray-Tracing Support For Vulkan Coming Soon

        Given Monday’s press conference by NVIDIA where they launched the RTX 20 series and much of the two-hour-long event was focused on ray-tracing for games, you may be wondering about the state of Linux affairs…

        While the GeForce RTX 20 series should work fine with NVIDIA’s proprietary Linux driver come 20 September, NVIDIA’s RTX ray-tracing technology is still largely tied to Windows and Direct3D 12. But they are working on bringing support for RTX to Vulkan API and that frees it up to be supported on Linux.

      • NVIDIA 396.54 Linux Drivers Show Up to 20% Performance Increase After Memory Leak Fix

        While just yesterday NVIDIA released their 396.54 Linux driver update which some may overlook, its actually a significant performance update for Linux gamers – so definitely do not miss out on this update if you’re a Linux gamer using an NVIDIA card. NVIDIA released this 396.54 update specifically to address a resource leak that was plaguing the drivers back to the 390 series, and the resource leak was lowering performance after Vulkan and OpenGL applications had stopped and started on the system – though NVIDIA hasn’t gone into specific details regarding exactly why this was happening.

    • Benchmarks
      • NVIDIA 396.54 Linux Driver Offers Big Performance Boost For Frequent Gamers

        Yesterday NVIDIA released the 396.54 Linux driver update and while from being another point release might feel like a mundane update hot on the heels of the GeForce RTX 2070/2080 series debut, it’s actually a significant driver update for Linux gamers. Here are some benchmarks showcasing the performance fix that warranted this new driver release.

        As mentioned in yesterday’s article, the 396.54 was released to fix a resource leak that had been existent going back to the 390 series driver. This resource leak could lead to lower performance after several OpenGL or Vulkan applications have started/stopped on the system… That’s about all of the details they’ve made public. But in knowing that it was performance related and that they began investigating this issue when seeing some differences in Phoronix benchmark results compared to past articles and spent several weeks analyzing the issue, I fired up the 396.54 Linux driver right away for some game benchmarking.

      • Vive la différence! Threadripper 2 on Linux and Windows 10

        Windows 10 is much better at dealing with multithreaded tasks but Linux has been optimized for both high core counts and NUMA for quite a while, so looking at the performance difference is quite interesting. Phoronix tested a variety of Linux flavours as well as Windows 10 Pro and the performance differences are striking, in some cases we see results twice as fast on Linux as Win10. That does not hold true for all tests as there are some benchmarks which Windows excels at. Take a look at this full review as well as those under the fold for a fuller picture.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Akademy 2018 in lovely Vienna!

        Attending Akademy – the annual KDE contributors summit – is always a quite intense experience. This year it happened from 11th to 17th August in the lovely city of Vienna, Austria. It was a quite special edition. We got a higher number of attendees, including some people who have been doing KDE things for more than a decade but only now had the chance to show up and talking to people in-person. In addition, we changed the conference program a bit, moving the reports for the Working Groups from the KDE e.V. General Assembly (restricted to KDE e.V. members) to the general Akademy schedule. Also, this year we introduced four training sessions covering topics not exactly technical but of paramount important for a community like KDE: Non-violent Communication, Online Fundraising and Campaigning, Documentation writing for non-writers, and Public Speaking Training.

      • Best Service

        How often do you meet your laptop vendor in person? Last year, I picked up a KDE Slimbook, and the machine has been great, acting as my development-box-on-the-go for lots of KDE travels. It has a few stickers, and some scratches, and the screen had gotten a bit wobbly by now .. so, at this year’s Akademy I stopped by the Slimbook stand, admired the newer Slimbook II (alas, the old one isn’t written off yet), and mentioned the wobbly screen.

      • New Kirigami communication channels

        Kirigami used to have a Telegram channel as its main communication channel. this is of course not optimal being a closed service and many potential contributors not having an account on Telegram.

      • KDE Plasma on ARM Laptop Pinebook

        In the last few years, smartphone hardware has become powerful enough to drive conventional desktop software. A developing trend is to create laptops using hardware initially designed for smartphones and embedded systems. There are distinct advantages to this approach: those devices are usually very energy efficient, so they can yield a long runtime on a single battery charge; they’re also rather inexpensive and lighter than conventional laptops.

      • KDE neon Linux Operating System Is Now Available for Pinebook 64-Bit ARM Laptops
      • KDE Neon With Plasma Ported & Optimized For Low-Cost 64-bit ARM Laptop
      • KDE neon on the $100 Pinebook

        The KDE neon team has been working with the Blue Systems hardware enablement team and the Pinebook developers to create the KDE neon Pinebook Remix. It uses our Bionic images built for arm64 to create a full featured slick desktop that runs on the best value hardware. The Pinebook comes at a low price but it’s a full laptop useful for watching videos, browsing the web or coding on KDE software. This could open up whole new markets to getting KDE software, a school which previously could only afford a couple of computers could now afford enough for a classroom, a family which previously had to share one computer could now afford a laptop for the children to learn how to code on. It’s quite exciting. And with the KDE Slimbook, neon now covers all ends of the market.

      • More Laptops

        One of the things to come out of Akademy is the first community release of the KDE neon Pinebook Remix image. I’ve been carrying around the Pinebook for some time — since FOSDEM, really, where I first met some of the Pine folks. At Akademy, TL was back and we (that’s a kind of royal “we”, because TL and Rohan and Bhushan and other people did all the hard work) got around to putting the finishing touches on the Pinebook image.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Virtualization, Remote Connection Made Simple Using GNOME Boxes

        GNOME Boxes is an application which makes virtualization super simple. Targeted to entry level users, gnome boxes has managed to eliminate too many configurations and settings changes needed to connect to a remote or virtual machine. There are other virtual machine client available in Linux universe but they are complex and sometimes dedicated to advanced users.

      • 4 Neat New GTK Themes for Your Linux Desktop

        The new Yaru/Communitheme theme might be the talk of the Ubuntu town right now, but it’s not the only decent desktop theme out there.

        If you want to give your Linux desktop a striking new look ahead of the autumn then the following quad-pack of quality GTK themes might help you out.

        Don’t be put off by the fact you will need to manually install these skins; it’s pretty to install GTK themes on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS above, providing you set hidden folders to show (Ctrl + H) in Nautilus first.

      • Getting Things GNOME

        When I last visited the question of to-do lists, I settled on a command-line utility, todo.txt. It’s reasonably versatile…but I’ve found that I don’t use it.

        The first reason is that I’d really prefer a graphical user interface, not a flat text display. But also, I’ve found that I want a hierarchical organizer. I tend to group tasks into categories, and I plan by dividing major tasks into subtasks.

        So I was intrigued when I noticed, quite by chance, that my time-tracker software (Hamster) will integrate with two task managers: Evolution and Getting Things GNOME! (GTG). I’ve always thought of Evolution as massive overkill, but I’d never heard of GTG, so I thought I’d give that a try.

      • GNOME 3.30 Brings Back Desktop Icons with Nautilus Integration, Wayland Support

        Earlier this year, the GNOME devs decided to remove the ability of the Nautilus (Files) file manager to handle desktop icons, stating with the GNOME 3.28 release, promising to bring it back as soon as possible through a new implementation in the form of a GNOME Shell extension.

        As expected, users were skeptical about the new implementation if it will offer them the same level of convenience that the previous method provided via the Nautilus file manager. We said it before and we’ll say it again, desktop icons are he to stay for many years and they are not going to disappear.

      • Desktop Icons For The GNOME Shell Are Back With Beta Extension
      • Desktop icons goes beta

        Today I have good news for “classic mode” users and those used to desktop icons.

      • GNOME’s New ‘Desktop Icons’ Extension Enters Beta

        Anyone hesitant of upgrading to GNOME 3.28 because of its decision to remove desktop icons need worry no more.

        A new extension for GNOME Shell brings desktop icons support back to the GNOME desktop.

        It works almost exactly as you’d expect: you can see icons on your desktop and rearrange them; double-click on files/folders/apps to open them; right-click on an empty part of the desktop create a new folders or open a folder in the terminal; and perform basic file operations like copy and paste.

      • New Videos & New Opportunities

        Flatpak 1.0 has released which is a great milestone for the Linux Desktop. I was asked at GUADEC whether a release video could be in place. In response, I spontaneously arranged to produce a voice-over with Sam during the GUADEC Video Editing BoF. Since then, I have been storyboarding, animating and editing the project in Blender. The music and soundscape has been produced by Simon-Claudius who has done an amazing job. Britt edited the voice-over and has lended me a great load of rendering power (thanks Britt!).

      • Getting back into Outreachy

        Outreachy is a great organization that helps women and other minorities get involved in open source software. (Outreachy was formerly the GNOME Outreach Program for Women.) I’ve mentored several cycles in Outreachy, doing usability testing with GNOME. I had a wonderful time, and enjoyed working with all the talented individuals who did usability testing with us.

        I haven’t been part of Outreachy for a few years, since I changed jobs. I have a really hectic work schedule, and the timing hasn’t really worked out for me. Outreachy recently posted their call for participation in the December-March cycle of Outreachy. December to March should be a relatively stable time on my calendar, so this is looking like a great time to get involved again.

        I don’t know if GNOME plans to hire interns for the upcoming cycle of Outreachy, at least for usability testing. But I am interested in mentoring if they do.

        Following conversations with Allan Day and Jakub Steiner, from GNOME Design, I’m thinking about changing the schedule we would use in usability testing. In previous cycles, I set up the schedule like a course on usability. That was a great learning experience for the interns, as they had a ramp-up in learning about usability testing before we did a big usability project.

  • Distributions
    • They should have called it Mirrorball

      TL;DR: there’s now an rsync server at rsync://images-dl.endlessm.com/public from which mirror operators can pull Endless OS images, along with an instance of Mirrorbits to redirect downloaders to their nearest—and hopefully fastest!—mirror. Our installer for Windows and the eos-download-image tool baked into Endless OS both now fetch images via this redirector, and from the next release of Endless OS our mirrors will be used as BitTorrent web seeds too. This should improve the download experience for users who are near our mirrors.

      If you’re interested in mirroring Endless OS, check out these instructions and get in touch. We’re particularly interested in mirrors in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa, since our mission is to improve access to technology for people in these areas.

    • New Releases
      • Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 Released

        Today I am very pleased to share the hard work of the Bodhi Team which has resulted in our fifth major release. It has been quiet the journey since our first stable release a little over seven years ago and I am happy with the progress this projected has made in that time.

        For those looking for a lengthy change log between the 4.5.0 release and 5.0.0, you will not find one. We have been happy with what the Moksha desktop has provided for some time now. This new major release simply serves to bring a modern look and updated Ubuntu core (18.04) to the lightning fast desktop you have come to expect from Bodhi Linux.

      • Lightweight Linux Distribution Bodhi Linux 5.0 Released

        It has been a few years of good progress for Bodhi Linux. It is always interesting to see what a lightweight Linux distribution has to offer.

      • Bodhi Linux 5.0 Promises a Rock-Solid Moksha Desktop on Top of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

        Bodhi Linux developer Jeff Hoogland announced today the release and general availability of the final Bodhi Linux 5.0 operating system series for 32-bit and 64-bit platforms.

        Based on Canonical’s long-term supported Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series, Bodhi Linux 5.0 promises to offer users a rock-solid, Enlightenment-based Moksha Desktop experience, improvements to the networking stack, and a fresh new look based on the popular Arc GTK Dark theme, but colorized in Bodhi Green colors.

      • Bodhi Linux 5.0 Arrives with Moksha Desktop Improvements

        The latest version of the lightweight Linux distribution includes a modest set of changes mainly concerned with aesthetics. The main lure for users will be the foundational upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS ‘Bionic Beaver’.

        “We have been happy with what the Moksha desktop has provided for some time now. This new major release simply serves to bring a modern look and updated Ubuntu core (18.04) to the lightning fast desktop you have come to expect from Bodhi Linux,” Bodhi developer Jeff Hoagland writes in his release announcement.

      • Bodhi Linux 5.0.0 now available with Ubuntu 18.04 base

        One of the best things about there being so many Linux distributions, is it can be fun to try them all. Believe it or not, “distro-hopping” is a legit hobby, where the user enjoys installing and testing various Linux-based operating systems and desktop environments. While Fedora is my reliable go-to distro, I am quite happy to try alternatives too. Hell, truth be told, I have more fun trying distributions than playing video games these days, but I digress.

        A unique distribution I recommend trying is the Ubuntu-based Bodhi Linux. The operating system is lightweight, meaning it should run decently on fairly meager hardware. It uses a desktop environment called “Moksha” which is very straightforward. The Enlightenment 17 fork is a no-nonsense DE that both beginners and power users will appreciate. Today, version 5.0.0 finally becomes available. This follows a July release candidate.

      • UBOS Beta 15: status LEDs, Pagekite and Staff improvements
      • UBOS Linux beta 15: status LEDs, Pagekite and Staff improvements

        Two important conferences are coming up:

        * the Nextcloud conference in Berlin, Germany, from August 23 to 30, and
        * the MyData.org conference in Helsinki, Finland, August 29-31.

        We’ll be at both, and just in time, we are proud to release UBOS beta 15!

        Here are some highlights:

        * Boot your Raspberry Pi from USB, not just an SDCard
        * The UBOS Staff has learned a very convenient new trick
        * UBOS now drives the LEDs on Intel NUCs and the Desktop Pi enclosure for the Raspberry Pi
        * Access your device from the public internet through Pagekite integration

        For more info, read the detailed release notes here: https://ubos.net/docs/releases/beta15/release-notes/

      • Freespire 4.0, Mozilla Announces New Fellows, Flatpak 1.0, KDevelop 5.2.4 and Net Neutrality Update

        Freespire 4.0 has been released. This release brings a migration of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS codebase to the 18.04 LTS codebase, which adds many usability improvements and more hardware support. Other updates include intuitive dark mode, “night light”, Geary 0.12, Chromium browser 68 and much more.

      • Omarine 4.0 released!
    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Beta now available

        The hybrid cloud requires a consistent foundation and today, we are pleased to refine and innovate that foundation with the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 beta. The latest update to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 is designed to deliver control, confidence, and freedom to demanding business environments, keeping pace with cloud-native innovation while supporting new and existing production operations across the many footprints of enterprise IT.

        As Red Hat’s Paul Cormier states, the hybrid cloud is becoming a default technology choice. Enterprises want the best answers to meet their specific needs, regardless of whether that’s through the public cloud or on bare metal in their own datacenter. Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides an answer to a wide variety of IT challenges, providing a stable, enterprise-grade backbone across all of IT’s footprints – physical, virtual, private cloud, and public cloud. As the future of IT turns towards workloads running across heterogeneous environments, Red Hat Enterprise Linux has focused on evolving to meet these changing needs.

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Beta Updates Cockpit, Adds Podman
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 beta is out now
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Enters Beta with Linux Container Innovations, More

        Red Hat announced today the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 operating system for beta testing for Red Hat Enterprise Linux customers.

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 is the sixth maintenance update in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 operating system series, promising innovative technologies for Linux containers and enterprise-class hybrid cloud environments, new security and compliance features, as well as improvements in the management and automation areas.

        “The latest update to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 is designed to deliver control, confidence, and freedom to demanding business environments, keeping pace with cloud-native innovation while supporting new and existing production operations across the many footprints of enterprise IT,” said Red Hat in today’s announcement.

      • Open source key in federal IT modernization, adoption of emerging tech

        There’s no pause button for agencies as they modernize systems — they must maintain critical legacy services while developing new platforms, which can make modernization a doubly tough proposition.

        Open source technologies, however, can help to lighten that load, says Adam Clater, chief architect of Red Hat’s North American public sector business.

        “Open source in the current climate is very much on the tip of everyone’s tongue. As the federal government looks to dig themselves out of the technical debt and focus on modernization, as well as delivering new services to their end users, at the end of the day they do have to continue the business of the government,” said Clater. “There’s a very natural affinity toward open source technologies as they do that because open source technologies are really at the forefront of the innovation we’re seeing.”

        Because of this, Clater says he’s seen a surge in adoption of open source technology in the federal government in recent years.

        “I think the government is ratcheting up their participation in open source communities,” he told FedScoop. “They’ve long been participants and contributors, but with Code.gov and the memorandum around open source and open sourcing of government code, I think they’re really leaning in as both a contributor and a consumer of open source while partnering with industry in a lot of that adoption.”

      • How open source should transform your product development strategy

        It’s a bit surprising that no one else seems to be following Red Hat’s lead. For a company that pulled in a very profitable $3 billion in its last fiscal year, and is on track to top $5 billion, Red Hat does a lot of things right. Perhaps most interestingly, however, is how it does product development.

        As Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has said: “Five years ago we didn’t know the technologies we’d be using today, and we don’t know what will be big in five years time.” That’s true of all companies. What’s different for Red Hat, however, is how the company works with open source communities to invent the future.

      • Mozilla Announces Major Improvements to Its Hubs Social Mixed Reality Platform, Windmill Enterprise Joins The Linux Foundation, Cloud Foundry Survey Results, New Bodhi Linux Major Release and Red Hat Linux 7.6 Now Available

        Red Hat Linux 7.6 beta is now available. According to the Red Hat blog, “Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 beta adds new and enhanced capabilities emphasizing innovations in security and compliance features, management and automation, and Linux containers.” See the Release Notes for more information.

      • Maxta, Red Hat, Intel Team Up for Hyperconverged ‘(Un)Appliance’

        Hyperconverged storage software maker Maxta on Aug. 22 introduced a new appliance with a specific function: to run its software on Red Hat Linux’ virtualization framework.

        This is a pre-configured system—called a Hyperconverged (Un)Appliance—consisting of Red Hat and Maxta software bundled together on Intel Data Center Blocks hardware. The joint package provides appliance-based hyperconvergence benefits without the disadvantages conventional systems have to endure, such as costs for refreshing, upgrading, VMware licensing and proprietary virtualization.

        Hyperconverged (Un)Appliances collapse servers, storage and networking into a single server tier that is used to run virtual machines and containers, Maxta said. Storage is configured automatically when VMs or containers are created, allowing administrators to focus on managing applications rather than storage.

      • Maxta Introduces Hyperconverged “(Un)Appliance” with Maxta and Red Hat Virtualization Pre-Configured on Intel® Data Center Blocks Hardware

        -Maxta Inc., a leading provider of hyperconvergence software, today introduced a Hyperconverged “(Un)Appliance” for Red Hat Virtualization, a pre-configured system of Red Hat Virtualization software and Maxta Hyperconvergence software bundled together on Intel® Data Center Blocks hardware. This joint solution provides all the advantages of appliance-based hyperconvergence without any of the disadvantages – there’s no refresh tax, no upgrade tax, no VMware tax, and no proprietary virtualization.

      • Ready to adapt: Providing applications and services worldwide easily and quickly

        The automobile industry is undergoing the biggest transformation in its 100-plus year history – and automotive trade is changing just as dramatically. Digitization has become at once a major competitive factor and a catalyst, influencing every company in the industry, while simultaneously proving to be a resource to be taken advantage of. Companies wishing to benefit from it should prepare to adapt organizationally, culturally, and technically while being able to manage the resulting changes.

        In many ways, digitization means that companies must orient themselves to the needs of the customers economically, strategically, and technically. This customer-centric focus runs through all value chains company-wide as well as the respective individual divisions of every company, from development and production to sales and service.

      • New Red Hat Product Security OpenPGP key

        Red Hat Product Security has transitioned from using its old 1024-bit DSA OpenPGP key to a new 4096-bit RSA OpenPGP key. This was done to improve the long-term security of our communications with our customers and also to meet current key recommendations from NIST (NIST SP 800-57 Pt. 1 Rev. 4 and NIST SP 800-131A Rev. 1).

        The old key will continue to be valid for some time, but it is preferred that all future correspondence use the new key. Replies and new messages either signed or encrypted by Product Security will use this new key.

      • Reducing data inconsistencies with Red Hat Process Automation Manager

        Managing data reconciliation through a specific process is a common necessity for projects that require Digital Process Automation (formerly known as Business Process Management), and Red Hat Process Automation Manager helps to address such a requirement. This article provides good practices and a technique for satisfying data reconciliation in a structured and clean way.

        Red Hat Process Automation Manager was formerly known as Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite, so it’s worth mentioning that jBPM is the upstream project that fuels Process Automation Manager. The blog post From BPM and business automation to digital automation platforms explains the reasons behind the new name and shares exciting news for this major release.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Flatpak Linux app distributor is now ready for prime time

          The Flatpak framework for distributing Linux desktop applications is now in prodaction release, after three years of beta status. The framework, originally called XDG-app, is intended to make Linux more attractive to desktop app developers. Applications built as a Flatpak can be installed on just about any Linux distribution.

          The open source FlatPak can be used by different types of desktop applications and is intended to be as agnostic as possible when it comes the building of applications. There are no requirements for languages, build tools, or frameworks. Users can control app updates. Flatpack uses familiar technologies such as the Bubblewrap utility for setting up containers and Systemd for setting up Linux cgroups (control groups) for sandboxes.

        • Fedora 29 FESCO Approval Highlights from This Week, and Fedora 30 Release Schedule Confirmed

          The members of the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee have not only recently approved the Fedora 30 release schedule proposal, they have just recently approved a handful of Fedora 29 features.

          Fedora 29 won’t be shipping until the end of October, but the Fedora 30 release schedule was confirmed to be around April 30th to May 7th of next year – the developers are planning on a massive and lengthy rebuild to occur around the end of January, then change checkpoint completion deadline by middle of February, beta freeze in early March, beta release towards the end of March, and the final freeze around the middle of April.

        • Fedora 30 Release Schedule Finalized, Aiming For A 30 April Debut

          While Fedora 29 isn’t shipping until the end of October, the release schedule for Fedora 30 was firmed up this week at the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee meeting.

          The approved schedule is aiming for the Fedora 30 Linux release to happen on 30 April but with a pre-planned fallback date of 7 May.

        • Bodhi 3.9.0 released
        • PHP on the road to the 7.3.0 release

          Version 7.3.0beta2 is released. It’s now enter the stabilisation phase for the developers, and the test phase for the users.

          RPM are available in the remi-php73 repository for Fedora ≥ 27 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 6 (RHEL, CentOS) and as Software Collection in the remi-safe repository (or remi for Fedora)

        • Xfce 4.13 Approved For Fedora 29 Along With Other Late Change Proposals

          In addition to approving the Fedora 30 release schedule proposal, the members of the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee have approved this week a number of Fedora 29 features.

        • Flock 2018 trip report

          A presentation from Jim Perrin and Matt Miller revealed that Fedora and CentOS dist-git will be tied together. This change will likely provide an opportunity to do crazy, awesome and beautiful stuff. But the key thing is to have a single dist-git deployment instead of 2 at start. Once that’s done, we may start thinking about what to do with it.

          Also Brian Stinson described the CI effort to validate all Fedora packages using CentOS CI infrastructure. Good updates, we seem to be getting really close to a system where all of us can write tests for their packages easily and run them on builds. Brian promised that short term we should be getting notifications from the pipeline and documentation. Can’t wait!

    • Debian Family
      • Debian Developers Discuss Process For Salvaging Packages

        While Debian has tens of thousands of packages in its archive and users often tend to cite the size of a package archive as one of the useful metrics for evaluating a OS/distribution or package manager’s potential, not all packages are maintained the same. In acknowledging that not all packages are maintained to the same standard and some ultimately slip through the cracks, Debian developers are discussing a salvaging process.

        Like other distributions, Debian has processes in place already for orphaning packages when a maintainer disappears or voluntarily gives up maintaining a particular package. But this proposed package salvaging process is for poorly maintained or completely unmaintained packages that aren’t in an orphaned state — the process to salvage a package to improve its quality would be “a weaker and faster procedure than orphaning.” The package maintainers could simply be preoccupied for a number of months, lost interest in the particular package and not pursued orphaning, etc.

      • Reasons Why Debian Is Crucial To Linux History

        That August 16, 1993, a young Ian Murdock announced on Usenet “the imminent completion of a new version of Linux which I will call Debian Linux Release.”
        Murdock, of course, had no idea that Debian would end up becoming an institution in the Linux world. This distribution, mother of many others (Ubuntu included), has completed 25 splendid years that have confirmed it as a crucial development in the world of Linux and Open Source.

      • Linux Vacation Eastern Europe 2018

        On Friday, I will be attending LVEE (Linux Vacation Eastern Europe) once again after a few years of missing it for various reasons. I will be presenting a talk on my experience of working with LAVA; the talk is based on a talk given by my colleague Guillaume Tucker, who helped me a lot when I was ramping up on LAVA.

        Since the conference is not well known outside, well, a part of Eastern Europe, I decided I need to write a bit on it. According to the organisers, they had the idea of having a Linux conference after the newly reborn Minsk Linux User Group organised quite a successful celebration of the ten years anniversary of Debian, and they wanted to have even a bigger event. The first LVEE took place in 2005 in a middle of a forest near Hrodna.

      • DebConf18 video work

        For personal reasons, I didn’t make it to DebConf18 in Taiwan this year; but that didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in what was happening. Additionally, I remotely configured SReview, the video review and transcoding system which I originally wrote for FOSDEM.

      • Derivatives
        • Looking for a new OS? Try these Debian Linux-based systems

          The Linux-based OS Debian is 25 years old, and during its lifetime this child of the 90s has spawned its own family of operating systems.

          Debian derivatives come in all shapes and sizes, from user-friendly Linux Mint to the macOS replacement Elementary OS to the privacy-centric Tails.

          This gallery rounds up some of the most notable and popular Debian derivatives, as highlighted by The Debian Project and DistroWatch.

        • Devuan is a Linux Distro Without systemd. Why Should You Use It?

          Devuan is a fork of the popular Debian Operating System upon which Ubuntu is based. It was first released in November 2014 with the aim of providing Linux users with a distro that doesn’t have the systemd daemon installed by default.

          Although Devuan started when Debian adopted systemd but didn’t have a stable release until last year, 2017 in line with the release of Debian 9.

          Because Devuan is virtually a replica of Debian except that it doesn’t use systemd, this article will be to highlight the differences between both OSes (starting with the most important,) so that you can see why you may prefer one over the other.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Server development summary – 21 August 2018

            The purpose of this communication is to provide a status update and highlights for any interesting subjects from the Ubuntu Server Team. If you would like to reach the server team, you can find us at the #ubuntu-server channel on Freenode. Alternatively, you can sign up and use the Ubuntu Server Team mailing list.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • After Adopting LXQt, Lubuntu Is Switching to Wayland by Default for Ubuntu 20.10

              Like its bigger brother Ubuntu and other official flavors, Lubuntu is still using the old X.Org Server by default, though nothing stops users to switch to Wayland if they want a more secure and capable display server for their computers, but that’s about to change in the coming years as Lubuntu will adopt Wayland by default.

              Ubuntu already tried to move to Wayland by default with the now deprecated Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) release, but it had to switch back to X.Org Server and put Wayland on the back seat as an alternative session, which users can select from the login manager, with the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) release.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Will a new, open source Twitter replace the flawed old one?

    If you type Mastodon into Google around now you’ll probably happen upon a hairy chap called Brent Hinds who is apparently selling off his huge collection of guitars and amplifiers. For as well as being a prehistoric elephant, Mastodon is a beat combo and, latterly, a newish social network being promoted as “Twitter without the Nazis” or, less hysterically, “Twitter minus its bad bits”.

    Mastodon was launched in August 2016 and received a guarded welcome. People got the idea: Mastodon was community owned, open source, decentralised, no advertising, no tracking, and no hate speech (probably) sort of outfit.

    Unlike Twitter, Mastadon comprises software ‘instances’, so it’s a federation of little sites which self-administer. If you live mostly in one instance, that doesn’t stop you from following and being followed by members of other instances.

  • What is a ‘living’ application?

    Essentially open source Business Process Management (BPM) software company Bonitasoft has introduced its Bonita 7.7 iteration release.

    This is BPM software with Intelligent Continuous Improvement (ICI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) capabilities.

    The company says that its ICI play here is a route to building what it has called adaptable ‘living’ applications.

    A living application then being one that can deliver changes in terms of continuous improvement, continuous integration, continuous deployment and continuous connectivity.

  • Open-source tool simplifies DNS rebinding

    A new open-source tool designed to make DNS rebinding attacks easier has been released.

    The kit, dubbed ‘singularity of origin’, was launched last week by a team from NCC Group.

    It simplifies the process of performing a DNS rebinding attack, where an attacker is able to takeover a victim’s browser and break the single origin policy. This effectively allows an attacker to mask as the victim’s IP address and potentially abuse their privileges to access sensitive information.

    The tool was created with pentesters in mind, and to increase awareness for developers and security teams on how to prevent DNS rebinding, the tool’s creators said.

    NCC Group’s Gerald Doussot and Roger Meyer, who wrote the tool, told The Daily Swig: “Many developers think it’s safe to write software that has debug services listening only locally, but we’ve had several engagements where we were able to remotely compromise applications using DNS rebinding.

  • Open source community accelerates Akraino development for Edge Computing

    One of the most fascinating open networking projects to emerge earlier this year is the AT&T-initiated Akraino Edge Stack, which is being managed by the Linux Foundation. The objective of the Akraino project is to create an open source software stack that supports high-availability cloud services optimised for edge computing systems and applications.

    The project has now moved into its execution phase to begin technical documentation and is already backed and supported by a strong group of telecoms operators and vendors. They include Arm, AT&T, Dell EMC, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Juniper Networks, Nokia, Qualcomm, Radisys, Red Hat and Wind River.

  • Progress Open Sources ABL Code with Release of Spark Toolkit

    Progress, a provider of application development and digital experience technologies, has released the Progress Spark Toolkit, a set of open source ABL code and recommended best practices to enable organizations to evolve existing applications and extend their capabilities to meet market demands.

    Previously only available from Progress Services, the Spark Toolkit was created in collaboration with the Progress Common Component Specification (CCS) project, a group of Progress OpenEdge customers and partners defining a standard set of specifications for the common components for building modern business applications. By engaging the community, Progress says it has leveraged best practices in the development of these standards-based components and tools to enable new levels of interoperability, flexibility, efficiencies and effectiveness.

  • Open Source ABL code release with Spark Toolkit

    Progress has announced the release of Progress Spark Toolkit, a set of open source Advanced Business Language (ABL) code and recommended best-practices to enable organizations to evolve existing applications and extend their capabilities to meet market demands.

  • Foundries.io promises standardized open source IoT device security

    IoT devices currently lack a standard way of applying security. It leaves consumers, whether business or individuals, left to wonder if their devices are secure and up-to-date. Foundries.io, a company that launched today, wants to change that by offering a standard way to secure devices and deliver updates over the air.

    “Our mission is solving the problem of IoT and embedded space where there is no standardized core platform like Android for phones,” Foundries.io CEO George Grey explained.

  • Foundries.io delivers secure IoT
  • Foundries.io Launches microPlatforms for an Always-Secure Internet of Things

    Emerging from two years in stealth mode, Foundries.io™ today announced the world’s first commercially available, continuously updated LinuxⓇ and Zephyr™ microPlatform™ distributions for the embedded, IoT, edge and automotive markets. Supported by a newly announced partner program, these microPlatforms™ enable devices from light bulbs to connected cars to always be secure and updated to the latest available firmware, operating system and application(s).

  • Managed Linux and Zephyr distros for IoT offer OTA and container tech

    A Linaro spinoff called Foundries.io unveiled a continuously updated “microPlatforms” IoT service with managed Linux and Zephyr distros. The Linux platform is based on OE/Yocto and Docker container code.

    A Cambridge, UK based startup called Foundries.io, which is funded by Linaro and led by former Linaro exec George Grey, has launched a microPlatforms service with managed, subscription-based Linux and Zephyr distributions. The microPlatforms offering will target IoT, edge, and automotive applications, and provide continuous over-the-air (OTA) updates to improve security.

    The distributions are designed to work with any private or public cloud platform, with the microPlatform cloud service acting as an intermediary. The microPlatforms packages include firmware, kernel, services, and applications, “delivered continuously from initial product design to end-of-life,” says Foundries.io.

  • Foundries.io Tightens Edge, IoT Integration to Boost Security

    oundries.io emerged from stealth with the notion that tight integration and instant software updates are the best security for edge, embedded, and IoT devices.

    That philosophy is behind the company’s “microPlatforms” software that target devices running Linux or Zephyr distributions for the embedded, IoT, connected device, and edge markets. The Foundries.io platform allows for security and bug fix updates to be immediately sent to those devices. The software includes firmware, kernel, services, and application support, with Foundries.io handling the engineering, testing, and deployment of those updates.

  • Startup Drives Open Source to IoT

    A startup formed by members of Linaro wants to be the Red Hat of the Internet of Things, delivering configurations of Linux and the Zephyr RTOS for end nodes, gateways and cars. Foundries.io aims to provide processor-agnostic code with regular updates at a time when IoT developers have a wide variety of increasingly vendor-specific choices.

    “Today every IoT product is effectively a custom design that has to be tested and maintained, and we believe that causes huge fragmentation. Our concept is to make it as easy to update an embedded product as to update a smartphone, so you don’t need a security expert,” said George Grey, chief executive of Foundries.io.

  • State Certifies LA County’s New Open-Source Vote Tally System

    Los Angeles County’s open-source vote tally system was certified by the secretary of state Tuesday, clearing the way for redesigned vote-by-mail ballots to be used in the November election.

    “With security on the minds of elections officials and the public, open-source technology has the potential to further modernize election administration, security and transparency,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “Los Angeles County’s VSAP vote tally system is now California’s first certified election system to use open-source technology. This publicly-owned technology represents a significant step in the future of elections in California and across the country.”

    The system — dubbed Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) Tally Version 1.0 — went through rigorous security testing by staffers working with the secretary of state as well as an independent test lab, according to county and state officials.

  • LA County gets state approval of new vote-counting system using open source software
  • LA County OKs Open-Source Election System
  • LA County OKs Open-Source Election System

    California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office has certified the first open-source, publicly owned election technology for use in Los Angeles County — “a significant step in the future of elections in California and across the country.”

    The system is known as Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) Tally Version 1.0. Its certification will allow Los Angeles County to use its newly designed Vote By Mail (VBM) ballots in the November election.

    County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, in the news release from Padilla’s office, said the new system will ensure accurate and secure counting of ballots.

    Logan’s office will begin distributing the new ballots on Oct. 9. Each voter’s packet will include a ballot, a postage-paid return envelope, a secrecy sleeve and an “I Voted” sticker.

    “As part of the certification process, the system went through rigorous functional and security testing conducted by the Secretary of State’s staff and a certified voting system test lab,” Padilla’s office said. “The testing ensured the system’s compliance with California and federal laws, including the California Voting System Standards (CVSS).”

  • State Certifies LA County’s New Open-Source Vote Tally System

    Los Angeles County’s open-source vote tally system was certified by the secretary of state Tuesday, clearing the way for redesigned vote-by-mail ballots to be used in the November election.

    “With security on the minds of elections officials and the public, open-source technology has the potential to further modernize election administration, security and transparency,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “Los Angeles County’s VSAP vote tally system is now California’s first certified election system to use open-source technology. This publicly-owned technology represents a significant step in the future of elections in California and across the country.”

    The system — dubbed Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) Tally Version 1.0 — went through rigorous security testing by staffers working with the secretary of state as well as an independent test lab, according to county and state officials.

  • 5 open source tools for container security

    As containers become an almost ubiquitous method of packaging and deploying applications, the instances of malware have increased. Securing containers is now a top priority for DevOps engineers. Fortunately, a number of open source programs are available that scan containers and container images. Let’s look at five such tools.

  • Salesforce Makes ML Library Available as Open Source Project

    It’s increasingly clear that when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), many organizations will be able to leverage investments made by IT vendors that are being made available as open source code. The latest example of that trend is a decision by Salesforce to make TransmogrifAI, a machine learning library that makes it simpler to consume large amounts of structured data, available as open source code on GitHub.

    Shubha Nabar, senior director of data science for Salesforce Einstein, the AI platform developed by Salesforce, says the decision to make TransmogrifAI open source is driven by primarily by a desire to make AI technologies readily available and easily understandable.

  • Bolster your DevOps infrastructure with open source tools

    When we talk about DevOps, we typically mean managing software deliverables, not infrastructure. But the overall system sanctity is deeply coupled with infrastructure integrity. How many times have you heard “But it works on my system”? Or perhaps a misconceived admin changes the configuration of the production server and things don’t work anymore. Hence, it is essential to bring infrastructure into the proven DevOps practices of consistency, traceability, and automation.

    This article builds on my previous one, Continuous infrastructure: The other CI. While that article introduced infrastructure automation and infrastructure as a first-class citizen of the CI pipeline using the principles of infrastructure as code and immutable infrastructure, this article will explore the tools to achieve a CIi (continuous integration of infrastructure) pipeline through automation.

  • Open-Source Hybrid Analysis Portal Gets a Boost

    The free Hybrid Analysis malware research site used for investigating and detecting unknown malware threats now includes an accelerated search feature that roots out matches or correlations in minutes, rather than hours.

    CrowdStrike donated its Falcon MalQuery new rapid-search feature to the Hybrid Analysis community platform, which has some 100,000 active users worldwide. Hybrid Analysis was acquired in fall 2017 by CrowdStrike, and also employs CrowdStrike’s sandbox technology.

  • BlazeMeter Open Sources Plugin for Mainframe Testing

    BlazeMeter launched an open source plugin for continuous mainframe testing.

    The RTE plugin works with the company’s Apache JMeter, an open source Java application designed to load test functional behavior and measure performance.

    “Supporting IBM mainframe protocols TN5250 and TN3270, the JMeter RTE plugin simulates a mainframe terminal sending actions and keystrokes to the mainframe server,” the company said in a statement. “By using the plugin, developers and testers can simulate filling forms or calling processes, specify the position of fields on the screen and the text to set on them, and simulate the keyboard attention keys.”

  • If you have ambition, open source at scale is essential

    When your job is to provide the cloud infrastructure to run analytics and workloads across three that are more than 100 miles apart datacenters, sucking 100-plus petabytes from each daily, it’s no longer an even remotely credible option to buy it from Megavendor X. These days, the only place to find such software is on an open source repository somewhere.

    Which is exactly what Didi Chuxing, the Uber of China, did.

    [...]

    Five years ago, Cloudera cofounder Mike Olson wrote, “No dominant platform-level software infrastructure has emerged in the last ten years in closed-source, proprietary form.” In significant measure, this stems from the realities of operating at web-scale: The financial costs, never mind the technical costs, of trying to scale proprietary hardware and software systems are simply too high. Companies like Google and Facebook keep gifting genius creations to the open source community, driving innovation faster, well beyond the realm of proprietary firms’ ability to compete in data infrastructure.

  • Energy controls platform available in open source

    VOLTTRON is an innovative open source software platform that helps users rapidly develop and deploy new control solutions for a myriad of applications in buildings, renewable energy systems and electricity grid systems. Developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with funding from the Department of Energy, VOLTTRON can be downloaded from the not-for-profit Eclipse Foundation that will steward it as an open source software platform. As part of this move, PNNL has joined the Eclipse Foundation, a global organization with more than 275 members.

    Flexible, scalable and cyber-secure, VOLTTRON offers paradigm-shifting capabilities for development of new analysis and management solutions for energy consumption optimization and integration of building assets with the electric grid. VOLTTRON provides the ability to shift energy demand to off-peak hours and manage a facility’s load shape to reduce stress on the grid.

  • Open source microservices management trends alter software delivery

    If you’re a business that uses a monolithic architecture, the adoption of microservices might cause some anxiety on your team. After all, there isn’t one comprehensive place to find answers to all the challenges that arise from managing today’s cloud-native apps, and there isn’t one single vendor that has all the answers.

    Fortunately, the open source community can offer some help. Trends in open source software point toward a future with a completely different approach to application management. If you’re willing to delve into and invest in today’s leading open source microservices projects, it’s possible to find everything you need to manage modern microservices applications in the cloud.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Notes now uses Rust & Android components

        Today we shipped Notes by Firefox 1.1 for Android, all existing users will get the updated version via Google Play.

        After our initial testing in version 1.0, we identified several issues with the Android’s “Custom Tab” login features. To fix those problems the new version has switched to using the newly developed Firefox Accounts Android component. This component should resolve the issues that the users experienced while signing in to Notes.

      • Dweb: Serving the Web from the Browser with Beaker

        We work on Beaker because publishing and sharing is core to the Web’s ethos, yet to publish your own website or even just share a document, you need to know how to run a server, or be able to pay someone to do it for you.

        So we asked ourselves, “What if you could share a website directly from your browser?”

        Peer-to-peer protocols like dat:// make it possible for regular user devices to host content, so we use dat:// in Beaker to enable publishing from the browser, where instead of using a server, a website’s author and its visitors help host its files. It’s kind of like BitTorrent, but for websites!

        [...]

        Beaker uses a distributed peer-to-peer network to publish websites and datasets (sometimes we call them “dats”).

      • New in Hubs: Images, Videos, and 3D Models

        A few months ago, we announced an early preview release of Hubs by Mozilla, an experiment to bring Social Mixed Reality to the browser. Since then, we’ve made major strides in improving usability, performance, and support for standalone devices like the Oculus Go. Today, we’re excited to share our first big feature update to Hubs: the ability bring your videos, images, documents, and even 3D models into Hubs by simply pasting a link.

      • Getting cross border lawful access in Europe right

        Lawmakers in the EU have proposed a new legal framework that will make it easier for police in one country to get access to user data in another country (so-called ‘e-evidence’) when investigating crimes. While the law seeks to address some important issues, there is a risk that it will inadvertently undermine due process and the rule of law in Europe. Over the coming months, we’ll be working with lawmakers in Europe to find a policy solution that effectively addresses the legitimate interests of law enforcement, without compromising the rights of our users or the security of our communications infrastructure.

      • Mozilla files FTC comments calling for interoperability to promote competition

        Mozilla’s Internet Health Report 2018 explored concentration of power and centralization online through a spotlight article, “Too big tech?” Five U.S. technology companies often hold the five largest market capitalizations of any industry and any country in the world. Their software and services are entangled with virtually every part of our lives. These companies reached their market positions in part through massive innovation and investment, and they created extremely popular (and lucrative) user experiences. As a consequence of their success, though, the product and business decisions made by these companies move socioeconomic mountains.

        And, like everyone, tech companies make mistakes, as well as some unpopular decisions. For many years, the negative consequences of their actions seemed dwarfed by the benefits. A little loss of privacy seemed easy to accept (for an American audience in particular) in exchange for a new crop of emojis. But from late 2016 through 2017, things changed. The levels of disinformation, abuse, tracking, and control crossed a threshold, sowing distrust in the public and catalyzing governments around the world to start asking difficult questions.

        Since our “Too big tech?” piece was published, this trajectory of government concern has continued. The Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal generated testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on both sides of the Atlantic. The European Commission levied a $5 billion fine on Google for practices associated with the Android mobile operating system. Meanwhile Republican Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called for a serious look at the power of tech companies, and Democratic Senator Mark Warner outlined a 20 point regulatory proposal for social media and technology firms.

      • TenFourFox and legacy addons and their euthanasia thereof

        Presently TenFourFox uses Mozilla Addons as a repository for “legacy” (I prefer “classic” or “can actually do stuff” or “doesn’t suck”) add-ons that remain compatible with Firefox 45, of which TenFourFox is a forked descendant. Mozilla has now announced these legacy addons will no longer be accessible in October. I don’t know if this means that legacy-only addons will no longer be visible, or no longer searchable, or whether older compatible versions of current addons will also be no longer visible, or whatever, or whether everything is going to be deleted and HTH, HAND. The blog post doesn’t say. Just assume you may not be able to access them anymore.

        This end-of-support is obviously to correlate with the end-of-life of Firefox 52ESR, the last version to support legacy add-ons. That’s logical, but it sucks, particularly for people who are stuck on 52ESR (Windows XP and Vista come to mind). Naturally, this also sucks for alternative branches such as Waterfox which split off before WebExtensions became mandatory, and the poor beleaguered remnants of SeaMonkey.

      • Timeline for disabling legacy add-ons on addons.mozilla.org

        Mozilla will stop supporting Firefox Extended Support Release (ESR) 52, the final release that is compatible with legacy add-ons, on September 5, 2018.

        As no supported versions of Firefox will be compatible with legacy add-ons after this date, we will start the process of disabling legacy add-on versions on addons.mozilla.org (AMO) in September. On September 6, 2018, submissions for new legacy add-on versions will be disabled. All legacy add-on versions will be disabled in early October, 2018. Once this happens, users will no longer be able to find your extension on AMO.

        After legacy add-ons are disabled, developers will still be able to port their extensions to the WebExtensions APIs. Once a new version is submitted to AMO, users who have installed the legacy version will automatically receive the update and the add-on’s listing will appear in the gallery.

  • Education
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • SUSE, Microsoft team up for Azure-tuned Linux kernel

      By default, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 instances on Azure will run on this custom-tuned kernel, although it can be easily switched back to the standard kernel using the package manager, Zypper.

    • Microsoft, SUSE collaborate on Linux kernel
    • SUSE and Microsoft Announce Enterprise Linux Kernel for Azure
    • Haiku Release R1/beta1, Flatpack v. 1.0.0, SUSE Updates Their Kernel to Boost Performance on Azure, Debian Receives Mitigation Updates to Vulnerability

      SUSE has had a long history with Microsoft, and it would seem that their relationship with the software giant continues with the Linux distribution’s updates to their kernel to boost performance on Azure.

    • Eclipse Foundation and IBM Partner to Help Fight Natural Disasters in New Global Open Source Software Initiative

      The Eclipse Foundation, the platform for open collaboration and innovation, today announced that it is joining the Call for Code initiative with Founding Partner IBM to use the power of open source software and a global collaborative community of developers to help people around the world better prevent, respond to, and recover from natural disasters.

      The Call for Code Global Challenge, created by David Clark Cause and powered by IBM, has more than 35 organizations asking developers to create solutions that significantly improve natural disaster preparedness and relief. This competition is the first of its kind at this global scale, encouraging developers worldwide who want to give back to their communities open software solutions that alleviate human suffering.

    • Why Redis Labs made a huge mistake when it changed its open source licensing strategy

      No, Redis is not proprietary after Redis Labs introduced a tweak to its licensing strategy. Yes, some modules from Redis Labs will now be under a weird new license hack that says, in essence, “Clouds, you’re not allowed to make money from this code unless you pay us money.” And yes, this hack was completely unnecessary in terms of open source evolution.

      You see, we already have ways to accomplish this. Not everyone likes strategies like Open Core, but they’re well-established, well-understood, and could have saved Redis Labs some headaches.

      [...]

      Let’s be clear: Redis Labs’ desire is rational and common to open source vendors. While Redis Labs didn’t touch the license for Redis Core (it remains under the highly permissive BSD), the company has slapped a “Commons Clause” onto otherwise open source software to make it…not open source. The rationale?

    • The Data Transfer Project

      Social networks are typically walled gardens; users of a service can interact with other users and their content, but cannot see or interact with data stored in competing services. Beyond that, though, these walled gardens have generally made it difficult or impossible to decide to switch to a competitor—all of the user’s data is locked into a particular site. Over time, that has been changing to some extent, but a new project has the potential to make it straightforward to switch to a new service without losing everything. The Data Transfer Project (DTP) is a collaborative project between several internet heavyweights that wants to “create an open-source, service-to-service data portability platform”.

      [...]

      Users will obviously need to authenticate to both sides of any transfer; that will be handled by authentication adapters at both ends. Most services are likely to use OAuth, but that is not a requirement. In addition, the paper describes the security and privacy responsibilities for all participants (service providers, users, and the DTP system) at some length. These are aimed at ensuring that users’ data is protected in-flight, that the system minimizes the risks of malicious transfers, and that users are notified when transfers are taking place. In addition, a data transfer does not imply removing the data from the exporting provider; there is no provision in DTP for automated data deletion.

      One of the advantages for users, beyond simply being able to get their hands on their own data, is the reduction in bandwidth use that will come because the service providers will directly make the transfer. That is especially important in places where bandwidth is limited or metered—a Google+ user could, for example, export their photos to Facebook without paying the cost of multi-megabyte (or gigabyte) transfers. The same goes for backups made to online cloud-storage services, though that is not really new since some service providers already have ways to directly store user data backups elsewhere in the cloud. For local backup, though, the bandwidth cost will have to be paid, of course.

      The use cases cited in the paper paint a rosy picture of what DTP can help enable for users. A user may discover a photo-printing service that they want to use, but have their photos stored in some social-media platform; the printing service could offer DTP import functionality. Or a service that received requests from customers to find a way to get their data out of another service that was going out of business could implement an export adapter using the failing service’s API. A user who found that they didn’t like the update to their music service’s privacy policy could export their playlists to some other platform. And so on.

    • KOGER Announces Open Source Client Portal Available for Financial Firms

      KOGER® Inc., a global financial services technology company, has announced the availability of an open-source client portal for financial institutions, asset managers, and fund administrators that works in tandem with the systems they already have in place.

  • Funding
    • Handshake Provides a Leg Up

      Handshake has recently awarded funds to many critical free and open source software projects. In particular Conservancy has been gifted $200K for our ongoing work to support software freedom by providing a fiscal home for smaller projects, enforcing the GPL and undertaking strategic efforts to grow and improve free software. Outreachy, the organization offering biannual, paid internships for under-represented people to work in free software (itself a member project of Conservancy) has also been awarded $100,000 from these funds.

      “We are grateful for this donation that will allow us to continue supporting people from underrepresented backgrounds in gaining focused experience as free software contributors and shaping the future of technology,” said Marina Zhurakhinskaya, Outreachy Organizer. Donations to the Outreachy general fund support program operations and increasing awareness of opportunities in free software among people from underrepresented groups in tech.

      [...]

      As a small organization, we are always working to do the most with what we have. The Handshake grant allows us to tackle some of the work that we would have otherwise had to put off to a later date. Unfettered donations give us the freedom to say yes to hiring contractors to help with tasks that we don’t have expertise for in house, they help us move up our timetables for critical infrastructure and they enable us to spend less time fundraising. These kinds of gifts are absolutely critical for Conservancy and for our frugal sister organizations in the free software community.

    • BackYourStack To Provide Open Source With Financial Security

      Open Collective has come up with an new initiative that makes it easy for companies to identify the open source projects that they depend on that also need funding and make a financial contribution. BackYourStack provides a new way for open source communities get paid for the work they do and become financially sustainable.

      [...]

      Open Collective lets its users set up pages to collect donations and membership fees where the funds required and the funds raised are explicitly shows and sponsors and the extent of their support is acknowledged. This page gives also access to an ongoing record of a project’s expenses where members can submit new expenses for reimbursement and its Budget facility allows income and expenditure to be tracked.

      According to its FAQs, so far Open Collective has raised $2,815,000 in funds for its members. It takes 10% plus credit card fees to cover the costs of running the platform and managing bookkeeping, taxes and the admin of reimbursing expenses and shares this commission with the host organizations that hold the money on behalf of member collectives.

  • BSD
    • DragonFlyBSD Now Runs On The Threadripper 2990WX, Developer Shocked At Performance

      Last week I carried out some tests of BSD vs. Linux on the new 32-core / 64-thread Threadripper 2990WX. I tested FreeBSD 11, FreeBSD 12, and TrueOS — those benchmarks will be published in the next few days. I tried DragonFlyBSD, but at the time it wouldn’t boot with this AMD HEDT processor. But now the latest DragonFlyBSD development kernel can handle the 2990WX and the lead DragonFly developer calls this new processor “a real beast” and is stunned by its performance potential.

      When I tried last week, the DragonFlyBSD 5.2.2 stable release nor DragonFlyBSD 5.3 daily snapshot would boot on the 2990WX. But it turns out Matthew Dillon, the lead developer of DragonFlyBSD, picked up a rig and has it running now. So in time for the next 5.4 stable release or those using the daily snapshots can have this 32-core / 64-thread Zen+ CPU running on this operating system long ago forked from FreeBSD.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Software Freedom Ensures the True Software Commons

      Proprietary software has always been about a power relationship. Copyright and other legal systems give authors the power to decide what license to choose, and usually, they choose a license that favors themselves and takes rights and permissions away from others.

      The so-called “Commons Clause” purposely confuses and conflates many issues. The initiative is backed by FOSSA, a company that sells materiel in the proprietary compliance industrial complex. This clause recently made news again since other parties have now adopted this same license.

      This proprietary software license, which is not Open Source and does not respect the four freedoms of Free Software, seeks to hide a power imbalance ironically behind the guise “Open Source sustainability”. Their argument, once you look past their assertion that “the only way to save Open Source is to not do open source”, is quite plain: “If we can’t make money as quickly and as easily as we’d like with this software, then we have to make sure no one else can as well”.

      These observations are not new. Software freedom advocates have always admitted that if your primary goal is to make money, proprietary software is a better option. It’s not that you can’t earn a living writing only Free Software; it’s that proprietary software makes it easier because you have monopolistic power, granted to you by a legal system ill-equipped to deal with modern technology. In my view, it’s a power which you don’t deserve — that allows you to restrict others.

      Of course, we all want software freedom to exist and survive sustainably. But the environmental movement has already taught us that unbridled commerce and conspicuous consumption is not sustainable. Yet, companies still adopt strategies like this Commons Clause to prioritize rapid growth and revenue that the proprietary software industry expects, claiming these strategies bolster the Commons (even if it is a “partial commons in name only”). The two goals are often just incompatible.

    • It may be poor man’s Photoshop, but GIMP casts a Long Shadow with latest update

      There appears to be no rest for Wilber as the GIMP team has updated the venerable image editor to version 2.10.6.

      We were delighted to see the arrival of the Straighten button in version 2.10.4, mainly due to our inability to hold a camera straight. Version 2.10.6 extends this handy feature to include vertical straightening, so the Leaning Tower of Pisa need lean no more. As before, the user must wield the Measure tool and either let GIMP automatically work out if straightening should be vertical or horizontal, or override the application.

      In a nod to East Asian writing systems, or just to those who feel the need for vertical text, GIMP has also gained a variety of vertical text options, including mixed orientation or the more Western style upright.

    • GNU Parallel 20180822 (‘Genova’) released

      GNU Parallel 20180822 (‘Genova’) has been released. It is available for download at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/parallel/

      Quote of the month:

      GNU parallel is a thing of magic.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • AMD Open-Sources “Rocprofiler” ROCm Profiler For GPU Hardware Perf Counters

        AMD developers have open-sourced rocprofiler for profiling the AMD GPU hardware performance counters under compute/OpenCL workloads.

        Rocprofiler consists of a library and tool for accessing the AMD graphics processor hardware performance counters. They anticipate that this profiler will be bundled as part of their upcoming ROCm 1.9 release, but it can be built today and used with their existing ROCm 1.8 releases.

      • RISC-V video
      • Fujitsu reveals the A64FX, an Arm-based supercomputer CPU

        Fujitsu has revealed details about its new high performance CPU, destined for the Post-K supercomputer. The A64FX is a Fujitsu designed Arm processor and is of particular note as it is the first to implement the Arm v8-A SVE architecture (SVE = Scalable Vector Extensions). Architectural details of the A64FX were shared at the Hot Chips 30 symposium yesterday evening in Cupertino, California. Fujitsu today emailed HEXUS a press release concerning further Post-K CPU specifications, yet to be shared on its website.

      • Fujitsu Presents Post-K CPU Specifications

        Fujitsu today announced publication of specifications for the A64FX CPU to be featured in the post-K computer, a supercomputer being developed by Fujitsu and RIKEN as a successor to the K computer, which achieved the world’s highest performance in 2011. The organizations are striving to achieve post-K application execution performance up to 100 times that of the K computer.

      • Fujitsu Unveils Details on Post-K Supercomputer Processor Powered by ARM

        Today Fujitsu published specifications for the A64FX CPU to be featured in the post-K computer, a future machine designed to be 100 times faster than the legendary K computer that dominated the TOP500 for years.

      • Fujitsu Reveals Details of Processor That Will Power Post-K Supercomputer

        Fujitsu has announced the specifications for A64FX, an Arm CPU that will power Japan’s first exascale supercomputer. The system, known as Post-K, is scheduled to begin operation in 2021.

  • Programming/Development
    • Python wriggles onward without its head

      At the third annual PyBay Conference in San Francisco over the weekend, Python aficionados gathered to learn new tricks and touch base with old friends.

      Only a month earlier, Python creator Guido van Rossum said he would step down as BDFL – benevolent dictator for life – following a draining debate over the addition of a new way to assign variables within an expression (PEP 572).

      But if any bitterness about the proposal politics lingered, it wasn’t evident among attendees.

      Raymond Hettinger, a Python core developer, consultant and speaker, told The Register that the retirement of Python creator Guido van Rossum hasn’t really changed things.

      “It has not changed the tenor of development yet,” he said. “Essentially, [Guido] presented us with a challenge for self-government. And at this point we don’t have any active challenges or something controversial to resolve.”

    • Introducing CI-Admin

      A major focus of recent developments in Firefox CI has been putting control of the CI process in the hands of the engineers working on the project. For the most part, that means putting configuration in the source tree. However, some kinds of configuration don’t fit well in the tree. Notably, configuration of the trees themselves must reside somewhere else.

    • This Week in Rust 248

      This week’s crate is wasm-bindgen-futures, a crate to make ECMAScript futures and Rust futures interoperate. Thanks to Vikrant for the suggestion!

    • CafeOBJ 1.5.8 released

      Some time ago we released CafeOBJ 1.5.8 with some new features and bugfixes for the inductive theorem prover CITP. We are still struggling with SBCL builds on Windows, which suddendly started to produce corrupt images, something that doesn’t happen on Linux or Mac.

    • digest 0.6.16

      digest version 0.6.16 arrived on CRAN earlier today, and was just prepared for Debian as well.

      digest creates hash digests of arbitrary R objects (using the ‘md5′, ‘sha-1′, ‘sha-256′, ‘sha-512′, ‘crc32′, ‘xxhash32′, ‘xxhash64′ and ‘murmur32′ algorithms) permitting easy comparison of R language objects.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Broadband Forum automates, accelerates cloud-based access deployment

      The Broadband Forum today announced the first code release and documentation of its new Open Broadband project – Broadband Access Abstraction (OB-BAA) to enable standardized, automated and accelerated deployment of new cloud-based access infrastructure and services.

    • Broadband Forum unveils first Open Broadband release

      The Broadband Forum has announced the release of code and supporting documentation for Broadband Access Abstraction (OB-BAA), the first code release for the Open Broadband project.

      The code and documentation offer an alternative approach for telcos looking to upgrade networks ahead of the anticipated stress caused by the introduction of more accessible and faster connectivity. The aim is to facilitate coexistence, seamless migration and the agility to adapt to an increasingly wide variety of software defined access models.

      “OB-BAA enables operators to optimize their decision-making process for introducing new infrastructure based on user demand and acceptance instead of being forced into a total replacement strategy,” said Robin Mersh, Broadband Forum CEO. “By reducing planning, risks and execution time, investment in new systems and services can be incremental.”

      The Forum’s Open Broadband initiative has been designed to provide an open community for the integration and testing of new open source, standards-based and vendor provided implementations. The group already counts support from the likes of BT, China Telecom, CenturyLink and Telecom Italia, as well as companies such as Broadcom and Nokia on the vendor side.

    • Broadband Forum Creates an Open Source Project for Network Access Interoperability

      As a freely-published, open source project, BAA specifies northbound interfaces, core components, and southbound interfaces for functions associated with network access devices that have been virtualized.

      Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum, said the BAA project is an Apache 2.0 licensed open source project. The code from the project resides on GitHub and contributors develop the work on BitBucket.

      Operators and equipment manufacturers involved in the project include Broadcom, BT, Calix, CenturyLink, China Telecom, Huawei, Nokia, Telecom Italia, Tibit Communications, the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab, and ZTE.

      The BAA code will immediately be integrated into another Broadband Forum initiative — its Cloud Central Office (CloudCO) project. CloudCO is a regular standards project. It’s developing a framework for transformation of the network from fixed function, through boxes, to software-defined networking.

Leftovers
  • Woman cons dozens of men into ‘date’ then sets them against each other

    At 6pm on Sunday, hundreds of men arrived at Union Square in Manhattan for what Aponte told them would be a one-on-one date where they would watch her friend DJ. Once they had formed an audience, each thinking the rest of the men were just there for a show, Aponte took to the stage, explained what was going on and started whittling down the guys with questions and challenges, saying that the winner would actually go on a date with her.

  • Science
    • Wikipedia, the Last Bastion of Shared Reality

      The culture wars are coming for the best utopian project of the early [I]nternet. Can it survive the informational anarchy that’s disrupted the rest of media?

    • What is Machine Learning?

      Advancements in computer technology over the past decades have meant that the collection of electronic data has become more commonplace in most fields of human endeavor. Many organizations now find themselves holding large amounts of data spanning many prior years. This data can relate to people, financial transactions, biological information, and much, much more.

      Simultaneously, data scientists have been developing iterative computer programs called algorithms that can look at this large amount of data, analyse it and identify patterns and relationships that cannot be identified by humans. Analyzing past phenomena can provide extremely valuable information about what to expect in the future from the same, or closely related, phenomena. In this sense, these algorithms can learn from the past and use this learning to make valuable predictions about the future.

    • A porn company promises to insert customers into scenes using deepfakes

      The company demoed the service with a pair of sample clips (link very much not safe for work). One blends the faces of two actresses and another swaps the background of a scene from a bedroom to a beach. It’s not the most advanced use of the technology, but the face-blending is relatively seamless, and it shows how accessible this sort of AI-powered video manipulation has become.

    • Naughty America Wants to Monetize Deepfake Porn

      This week, the company is launching a new service that allows customers to commission their own deepfake clips, which can include superimposing their own faces onto the bodies of porn performers, or incorporating porn stars into different environments. “We see customization and personalization as the future,” said the company’s CEO Andreas Hronopoulos in an interview with Variety.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Preliminary Injunction Denied, But Two-Day TRO Granted Precluding Launch of Generic Estrogen Patch

      The court denied plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction but granted plaintiff’s motion for a TRO precluding the launch of defendants’ generic transdermal estrogen product.

    • Can A Surge In Activism Defeat American Big Pharma?

      Not a day passes in America without news of a drug company raising prices on prescription drugs. Americans pay two to six times more for prescription drugs than those living in other developed countries, who earn the same income.

      People with chronic or life-threatening diseases, for whom drug costs are unaffordable, often skip treatment altogether. One quarter of all cancer patients chose not to fill a prescription due to cost, according to a 2013 study in the journal Oncologist. This is as drug prices for these conditions have skyrocketed. Humira for example, a widely used best-selling drug for rheumatoid arthritis, is now $2,700 per course of treatment, nearly three times what it costs in Switzerland.

      The vast majority of Americans support a wide range of measures to make drugs more affordable: 92% of Americans support laws allowing the federal government to negotiate lower prices for people on Medicare, the public welfare benefit scheme targeted at senior citizens. However, with two lobbyists per member of Congress and a lobbying services’ bill that oustrips every other industry, including defence, the odds are stacked against citizens in their fight against ‘big pharma’ over drug prices.

    • Is there a high chance of US and UK courts grappling with medicinal cannabis patents?

      The US and UK patent offices have granted a number of patents relating to the therapeutic use of cannabis derived products. Paradoxically, both the US and UK governments currently define cannabis and cannabis-derived products as having no medicinal benefit. Recent developments suggest that both governments may soon soften the legal definition of cannabis. This Kat takes the opportunity to ask, in view of the US and UK governments current position that cannabis has no medicinal use, how strong are the patents claiming the very same?

      [...]

      Recreational cannabis is subject to varying restrictions around the world. In the UK, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 categories cannabis and cannabinol as Class B drugs, meaning that unlicensed supply carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Cannabis has been fully legalized in certain US states (e.g. Colorado), and it will soon become fully legal to grow, possess and sell Cannabis in Canada.

      The legality of medicinal cannabis is distinct from that of recreational cannabis. The legislation governing whether licences can be awarded to supply a controlled substance for medical purposes is dependent on whether that substance is considered to have a proven medicinal effect. Cannabis was categorized by the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs as a drug having “no medicinal benefit” (Schedule 1). Both the US and UK currently follow this classification.

  • Security
    • Three New Security Advisories Hit X.Org’s X11 Library

      It’s been a while since last having any big security bulletins for the X.Org Server even though some of the code-base dates back decades and security researchers have said the security is even worse than it looks and numerous advisories have come up in recent years. But it’s not because X11 is bug-free as today three more security bulletins were made public affecting libX11.

      Today’s security advisory pertains to three different functions in libX11 that are affected by different issues. The security issues come down to off-by-one writes, a potential out of boundary write, and a crash on invalid reply.

    • USBHarpoon: How “Innocent” USB Cables Can Be Manipulated To Inject Malware

      Back in 2014 Black Hat Conference, crypto specialists Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell introduced the concept of BadUSB — a USB security flaw which allows attackers to turn a USB into a keyboard which can be used to type in commands.

      Now, a researcher from SYON Security has managed to build a modified USB charging cable that will enable hackers to transfer malware on your PC without you even noticing it. Behind the hood is the BadUSB vulnerability.

      [...]

      While BadUSB is gradually climbing the ladder towards the mainstream cyber attacks, people are also coming up with the corresponding firewalls to tackle the new age attacks.

    • Open Source ‘Kube-Hunter’ Does Kubernetes Penetration Testing

      Aqua Security released the open source kube-hunter tool for penetration testing of Kubernetes clusters, used for container orchestration.

      “You give it the IP or DNS name of your Kubernetes cluster, and kube-hunter probes for security issues — it’s like automated penetration testing,” the company said in an Aug. 15 blog post.

      The tool — with source code available on GitHub — is also packaged by the company in a containerized version, which works with the company’s kube-hunter Web site where test results can be seen and shared.

    • Get an open-source security multiplier

      Open-source solutions offer numerous advantages to development-savvy teams ready to take ownership of their security challenges. Teams can implement them to provide foundational capabilities, like “process logs” or “access machine state,” swiftly; no need to wait for purchasing approval. They can build custom components on top of open-source code to fit their company’s needs perfectly. Furthermore, open-source solutions are transparent, ‘return’ great value for dollars spent (since investment makes the tool better rather than paying for a license), and receive maintenance from a community of fellow users.

    • Is Open Source More Secure? Maybe Not [Ed: Cloud Academy is badmouthing FOSS and ignoring the fact that proprietary software has back doors in it, cannot be fixed by users]
    • Secure your open source components automatically, continuously, and silently[Ed: This site is posting promotional spam for this Microsoft partner that likes to badmouth FOSS in order to sell its proprietary software]
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Vulnerability Affects All OpenSSH Versions Released in the Past Two Decades

      A vulnerability affects all versions of the OpenSSH client released in the past two decades, ever since the application was released in 1999.

      The security bug received a patch this week, but since the OpenSSH client is embedded in a multitude of software applications and hardware devices, it will take months, if not years, for the fix to trickle down to all affected systems.

      [...]

      This bug allows a remote attacker to guess the usernames registered on an OpenSSH server. Since OpenSSH is used with a bunch of technologies ranging from cloud hosting servers to mandate IoT equipment, billions of devices are affected.

      As researchers explain, the attack scenario relies on an attacker trying to authenticate on an OpenSSH endpoint via a malformed authentication request (for example, via a truncated packet).

    • CVE-2018-5390 and “embargoes”

      A kernel bug that allows a remote denial of service via crafted packets was fixed recently and the resulting patch was merged on July 23. But an announcement of the flaw (which is CVE-2018-5390) was not released until August 6—a two-week window where users were left in the dark. It was not just the patch that might have alerted attackers; the flaw was publicized in other ways, as well, before the announcement, which has led to some discussion of embargo policies on the oss-security mailing list. Within free-software circles, embargoes are generally seen as a necessary evil, but delaying the disclosure of an already-public bug does not sit well.

      The bug itself, which Red Hat calls SegmentSmack, gives a way for a remote attacker to cause the CPU to spend all of its time reassembling packets from out-of-order segments. Sending tiny crafted TCP segments with random offsets in an ongoing session would cause the out-of-order queue to fill; processing that queue could saturate the CPU. According to Red Hat, a small amount of traffic (e.g. 2kbps) could cause the condition but, importantly, it cannot be done using spoofed IP addresses, so filtering may be effective, which may blunt the impact somewhat.

    • Meltdown strikes back: the L1 terminal fault vulnerability

      The Meltdown CPU vulnerability, first disclosed in early January, was frightening because it allowed unprivileged attackers to easily read arbitrary memory in the system. Spectre, disclosed at the same time, was harder to exploit but made it possible for guests running in virtual machines to attack the host system and other guests. Both vulnerabilities have been mitigated to some extent (though it will take a long time to even find all of the Spectre vulnerabilities, much less protect against them). But now the newly disclosed “L1 terminal fault” (L1TF) vulnerability (also going by the name Foreshadow) brings back both threats: relatively easy attacks against host memory from inside a guest. Mitigations are available (and have been merged into the mainline kernel), but they will be expensive for some users.

    • Researchers Blame ‘Monolithic’ Linux Code Base for Critical Vulnerabilities
    • Airmail 3.6 Fixes Potential URL Scheme Vulnerability

      Airmail has just released an update which patches a known security vulnerability in the e-mailing service. Security analysts recently discovered that the client was vulnerable to malicious exploits that could allow foreign and unauthorized persons to access and read sent and received emails in the context of a victim user. The patch released fixes the vulnerable channels that could have been exploited to gain such unwarranted access.

    • Ghostscript Vulnerability Could Cause Data Security Breach

      A vulnerability in the Ghostscript interpreter used to decipher Adobe Postscript and PDF documents online has come to light after a report by a Google security researcher, Tavis Ormandy, and a bothersome statement by Steve Giguere, an EMEA engineer for Synopsis. As the Ghostcript page descriptive language interpreter is the most commonly employed system in numerous programs and databases, this vulnerability has a mass range of exploit and impact if manipulated.

      [...]

      According to Giguere, this causes second tier delay as mitigation of this depends directly upon authors resolving the issue at its core as soon as it arises, firstly, but that on its own is no use if these resolved components are not uploaded to the web servers and applications that make use of them. The issues must be resolved at the core and then updated where they are directly being used for the sake of effective mitigation. As this is a two step process, it could provide malicious attackers with all the time that they need to exploit this type of vulnerability.

    • Microsoft Visual Studio C++ Runtime installers were built to fail

      Security researcher Stefan Kanthak claims the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2017 executable installers (x86 and x64) were built with insecure tools from several years ago, creating a vulnerability that could allow privilege escalation.

      In other words, Redmond is distributing to developers executables that install its Visual C++ runtime, and these installer programs are insecure due to being created by outdated tools. They can be exploited by malicious software to execute arbitrary code. It’s not the end of the world – it’s more embarrassment than anything else, due to the reliance on out-of-date tools.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Family of children Israel killed on Gaza beach reopen search for justice

      Four years after the massacre, Montaser still can’t play the game that brought him and his brothers joy. The sound of a football being kicked revives memories of bombs, shrieks and bloodshed, as well as a scene that he wants to shut out forever.

      “I still cannot forget. I was running quickly to flee the area. I survived, but I lost my brother and my cousins,” the 17-year-old recalls of a massacre that occurred just yards from the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

      Montaser Bakr is the sole remaining survivor of the Bakr children who the Israeli military struck on July 16, 2014, while they played football on a Gaza beach at the height of the enclave’s last war, killing four children aged between nine and 11 years old.

    • Drone Strikes Remain Unchecked in the War on Terror
    • ‘Liberal’ MSNBC Runs All-Star Lineup of Awful Right-Wing Guests

      MSNBC is often described as the liberal version of Fox News, delivering unabashed left-leaning content for vociferously partisan viewers. But if you looked at MSNBC’s lineup of guests for August 15, you’d be hard pressed to find a more odious group of right-wing liars, warmongers and racists on Fox News or any other outlet.

      MSNBC kicked it off with Andrea Mitchell interviewing mercenary Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of private military contractor Blackwater USA and the brother of Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

      Firstly, Mitchell didn’t even get Prince’s credentials right, saying that his company Blackwater no longer exists. This is exactly what its marketing department wants you to believe: Blackwater rebranded as Xe Services following the massacre of 17 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater contractors in Nisour Square in 2007. In 2010, Prince sold Xe to a private equity firm run by a family friend, who changed the name to Academi, which later merged with rival private military contractor Triple Canopy in 2014 to form Constellis Holdings, which was in turn purchased by the private equity giant Apollo Global Management in 2016. Under the name Constellis, Blackwater is still going strong; earlier this year, Apollo was looking to sell it for between $2 billion and $2.5 billion.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Tweets from Assange’s mum fuel conspiracy theory on Clinton email leaks

      Julian Assange’s mother caused excitement on Twitter, saying an ex-DNC worker leaked the Clinton emails. Christine Assange deleted her post after followers concluded that she meant Seth Rich, who was killed in 2016.

      The story unfolded after Christine responded to a tweet claiming Julian Assange had given the then presidential candidate Donald Trump the “upper hand” by leaking the Clinton emails.

  • Finance
    • Tax Case Flips the Script for Democrats and the GOP. But What About for Jurists?

      In a dispute between states’ rights and the congressional power to tax, you would expect conservatives to line up with the states and liberals with Congress. As the battle lines are drawn in State of New York v. Mnuchin, a lawsuit filed last month by the states of Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and New York, it will be Republicans defending the power of Congress and Democrats rallying to the cause of the states.

      While well off most people’s radar, the case has the potential to disrupt President Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement: last year’s massive tax cut. What remains to be seen — and will largely determine the outcome — is whether judicial conservatives align with Republicans (as they usually do) or defend the states’ rights doctrine at the heart of their legal thinking.

      The lawsuit attacks the tax cut passed at the end of last year by the Republican-controlled Congress, specifically its limits on the deductibility of state and local taxes. The law resulted in much higher federal taxes for many residents of high-tax states, most of which are governed by Democrats. Last month, the states brought suit in federal court in Manhattan challenging the constitutionality of this provision of the new law. The legal consensus is that the lawsuit is unlikely to prevail. But the strange bedfellows of this issue may be causing legal analysts to underestimate its chances.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics