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Standards and Proprietary Software Cautionary Tales

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  • 2020-02-11 | Linux Headlines

    The MATE desktop reaches 1.24 with some major improvements, KDE unveils its first LTS release in two years, The Linux Foundation focuses on ethics in its new training course, and Firefox 73 has a new provider for DNS over HTTPS.

  • Could JPEG2000 Finally Take Off In 2020? It's A Possibility With High Throughput HTJ2K

    While the standard is now two decades old and has yet to unseat the JPEG image standard in popularity, there is renewed interest in JPEG2000 with High Throughput JPEG 2000 (HTJ2K) and finally seeing increased software support. Collabora's Aaron Boxer thinks that JPEG2000 could finally be going mainstream. 

    Besides there no longer being any known patent/legal risk around JPEG 2000, back in 2018 the High Throughput JPEG 2000 (HTJ2K) work was announced that has all of the JPEG 2000 features but is much faster and still more efficient than traditional JPEGs. Those wishing to learn more about High Throughput JPEG 2000 can do so via and this whitepaper. 


  • Mozilla lost the browser wars. It still thinks it can save the [Internet].



    Increasingly, Mozilla seems to believe its best chance to save the [Internet] — even if it doesn't help the bottom line — is to venture outside its own products. Above the browser, above the ad networks, above the tech companies altogether. The only way to fight Google, Facebook and the rest of the seemingly unstoppable tech giants is to change the structure and technology of the [Internet] itself.


  • Audit Indicates Intuit Made $1 Billion By Hiding Free File Program From The Public

    It's been quite a long and frustrating walk for us in covering the lengths to which Intuit went to hide the free to file tax program. This is the program that it is legally mandated to offer. If you're not caught up, the IRS struck a deal with the big tax prep companies out there, promising not to offer and expand its own free file programs, but only if companies like Intuit offer their own free file programs. Intuit did as instructed with its TurboTax product, except that the company then went about hiding the website for the free to file program from search engines and the internet, all while dropping the word "free" into as many places on the website for the paid services site it also runs. Then, because evil is an addictive drug, Intuit went ahead and lied to a bunch of customers to avoid refunding their money when it got caught in all this, informed its own employees that it bilked the public for their own good, and was even eventually found to have wrapped itself in the American flag while swindeling active duty soldiers as well.

  • The End Of Ownership: Tesla Software Updates Giveth... And Tesla Software Updates Taketh Away...

    A few years back, we wrote about how Tesla automagically extended the range of Teslas in Florida as a hurricane was approaching. While this sounded good, we warned that this wasn't a good thing, when you realized it meant that what you bought could magically and secretly be changed without your permission or desire. In the Florida case, it was for a good purpose, but that wouldn't always be the case. So, it's little surprise that approximately half of all Techdirt readers decided to send me this story from Jalopnik of how Tesla remotely disabled its Autopilot feature on a 2nd hand Tesla Model S after it had been sold:

  • A factory reset of a Microsoft Surface Go reminded me why I love Chromebooks

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Desktop layer aside, the entire FreeBSD operating system doesn't seem to get as much developer love and attention as the typical mainstream Linux distribution. It doesn't take much use before you discover minor errors and paper cuts that really shouldn't exist—like pkg search not returning metapackages, or the disk partitioner not accepting its own example arguments as valid. My personal biggest frustration with FreeBSD—and the major reason I switched from it to Linux in 2008—is the lack of automatic security upgrades. FreeBSD does have tools to discover vulnerabilities in packages and update them, but they aren't designed to run in the background. They demand either interactive operation by an active and knowledgeable admin or significant tooling that the FreeBSD operating system itself does not provide. Worse yet, FreeBSD has at least two and often three entirely separate package systems to maintain. The source-based ports tree, the binary package system, and the base FreeBSD operating system itself—each uses entirely different tools for maintenance. If that's not bad enough, ports and packages actually conflict with one another, requiring even more care to make sure neither gets clobbered during upgrades. Digital Ocean has an excellent overview of basic FreeBSD maintenance, which we would strongly advise any new FreeBSD admin to read and understand thoroughly. Read more

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