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Top events ahead in 2014 for abusive patent litigation

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In the most recent development, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced what he calls a "groundbreaking settlement" with a well known Patent Assertion Entity (PAE), a so-called "patent troll." This action in the Empire State follows on earlier state Attorney General (AG) investigations in Vermont, Minnesota, and Nebraska. It heralds what I anticipate to be deeper scrutiny by state AG’s of PAE use of 'deceptive and abusive tactics' against businesses and other entities in what the NY AG found in this case to be "an effort to strong-arm them into paying... for patent licenses of dubious value."

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2014 in Tux Machines

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OUR FIRST couple of months at Tux Machines were pleasurable and we hope that readers found the links we've shared valuable. We even posted links while on vacation, i.e. away from home.

Migration of the site to Drupal 7 (and another server) has been planned for over a month now and it did not happen over Christmas because if things go wrong, not much help will be at hand. We have already tested a prototype of the site and it will need to be upgraded, integrated, etc. Whether we can retain the existing theme (compatibility changes between major releases of Drupal) remains to be seen, but the format of the site will definitely stay the same.

Happy new year to all our readers, whom we very much value. This site is a public service.

NSA reportedly intercepting laptops purchased online to install spy malware

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According to a new report from Der Spiegel based on internal NSA documents, the signals intelligence agency's elite hacking unit (TAO) is able to conduct sophisticated wiretaps in ways that make Hollywood fantasy look more like reality. The report indicates that the NSA, in collaboration with the CIA and FBI, routinely and secretly intercepts shipping deliveries for laptops or other computer accessories in order to implant bugs before they reach their destinations. According to Der Spiegel, the NSA's TAO group is able to divert shipping deliveries to its own "secret workshops" in a method called interdiction, where agents load malware onto the electronics or install malicious hardware that can give US intelligence agencies remote access.

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Matching databases to Linux distros

Relational database management systems (RDBMSs) aren’t the sort of thing to get most folk out of bed in the morning – unless, of course, you happen to think they’re one of the most brilliant concepts ever dreamed up. These days you can’t sneeze without someone turning it into a table value in a database somewhere - and in combination with the freely available Linux operating system, there’s no end to them. Most Linux distros make it almost trivial to add popular DBMSs to your system, such as MySQL and MariaDB, by bundling them in for free in their online app stores. But how do you tell which combination - which Linux distro and which DBMS - will give you the best performance? This week we've revved up the Labs servers to ask the question: what level of performance do you get from OS repository-sourced DBMSs? Read more

The Curious Case of Raspberry Pi Consumerism

I find the attitude of many within the Raspberry Pi community to be strange and offensive. I first discovered this odd phenomenon (odd because it contradicts the ethos of the project's academic foundations) back when it first started, as many within the Raspberry Pi community took an extremely hostile attitude toward academic freedom, apparently in defence of various parties' highly dubious intellectual monopolies (Broadcom and MPEG-LA, for example). I pointed out the irony and hypocrisy of their attitude at the time, explaining that they were more than happy to leech Free (as in freedom) Software for their own benefit, but then balked at the prospect of freely sharing the results, and in particular this contradicted their stated academic goal of facilitating better computer education in UK schools, an environment that rightly demands open access to knowledge. Read more

Google Chrome 38 Beta Brings New Guest Mode and Easier Incognito Mode Switching

The developers have explained that the user switching feature has been redesigned and it will make changing profiles and into the incognito mode a lot simple. They have also added a new experimental Guest mode, a new experimental UI for Chrome supervised users has been implemented, and numerous under-the-hood changes have been made for stability and performance. "This release adds support for the new element thanks to the hard work of community contributor Yoav Weiss, who was able to dedicate his time to implementing this feature in multiple rendering engines because of a successful crowd-funding campaign that raised more than 50% of its funding goal." Read more

PfSense 2.1.5 Is a Free and Powerful FreeBSD-Based Firewall Operating System

PfSense is a free network firewall distribution based on the FreeBSD, it comes with a custom kernel, and a few quite powerful applications that should make its users’ life a lot easier. Most of the firewall distros are Linux-based, but PfSense is a little bit different and is using FreeBSD. Regular users won't feel anything out of the ordinary, but it's an interesting choice for the base. The developers of PfSense are also saying that their distro has been successful in replacing a number of commercial firewalls such as Check Point, Cisco PIX, Cisco ASA, Juniper, Sonicwall, Netgear, Watchguard, Astar, and others. Read more