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Bugs, Proprietary Stuff, and DRM

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  • A lazy fix 20 years ago means the Y2K bug is taking down computers now

    Parking meters, cash registers and a professional wrestling video game have fallen foul of a computer glitch related to the Y2K bug.

    The Y2020 bug, which has taken many payment and computer systems offline, is a long-lingering side effect of attempts to fix the Y2K, or millennium bug.

    Both stem from the way computers store dates. Many older systems express years using two numbers – 98, for instance, for 1998 – in an effort to save memory. The Y2K bug was a fear that computers would treat 00 as 1900, rather than 2000.

    Programmers wanting to avoid the Y2K bug had two broad options: entirely rewrite their code, or adopt a quick fix called “windowing”, which would treat all dates from 00 to 20, as from the 2000s, rather than the 1900s. An estimated 80 per cent of computers fixed in 1999 used the quicker, cheaper option.

    “Windowing, even during Y2K, was the worst of all possible solutions because it kicked the problem down the road,” says Dylan Mulvin at the London School of Economics.

  • Getting Better, Finally: Intuit's Shady Actions For Free File Program Lead To Change In IRS Deal

    Going through the history of our posts on Intuit and TurboTax will give you an incredibly frustrating recent history of Intuit's bullshit actions regarding its free tax filing program for low-income households. This all stems from a deal the IRS cut with several major tax preparation companies, which amounted essentially to the IRS promising not to offer its own free file program so long as these companies, Intuit being the largest, provided free tax filing programs to the public themselves. The outcome of this naive deal cut by the IRS was to have companies like Intuit do everything possible to hide its free file sites from the public internet by delisting it from searches, then lying to customers to avoid refunding money when they complained that they could have filed for free, and finally Intuit similarly fooling veterans into paying for services that would otherwise be free all while wrapping itself in the American flag.

  • Apple Is Bullying a Security Company with a Dangerous DMCA Lawsuit

    Apple has unleashed their legal juggernaut on an innovative iOS security company, and if they win their lawsuit, the damage will reverberate beyond the security community and into the world of repair and maintenance.

    Corellium’s software creates virtual iPhones in a web browser, so that app developers and security researchers can tinker without needing a physical device. It’s nerdy stuff that most people will never need, but it’s genuinely useful. So useful, in fact, that Apple tried to buy the company. When the founders refused, Apple decided to sue them into oblivion.

  • Formlabs Form 3 Teardown

    It’s been my privilege to do teardowns on both the Formlabs Form 1 and Form 2. With the recent release of the Form 3, I was asked by Formlabs if I wanted to do another teardown, and of course I jumped on the opportunity. I always learn an immense amount while taking apart their machines, and it’s also been very satisfying to watch their engineering team grow and mature over the years.


    Well, that’s it for the Form 3 teardown – from the exterior shell down to the lone galvanometer. I’ve had the privilege of court-side seats to observe the growth of Formlabs. There’s a saying along the lines of “the last 20% takes 80% of the effort”. Based on what I’ve seen of the Form series, that should be amended to “the last 20% takes 80% of the effort – and then you get to start on the product you meant to make in the first place”. It dovetails nicely into the observation that products don’t hit their stride until the third version (remember Windows 3.x?). From three grad students fresh out of the MIT Media Lab to a billion-dollar company, Formlabs and the Form series of printers have come a long way. I’d count myself as one of the bigger skeptics of 3D printing as a mass-production technology, but I hadn’t considered an approach like the LPU. I feel like the LPU embodies an audacious vision of the future of 3D printing that was not obvious to me as an observer about nine years ago. I’m excited to see where this all goes from here!

Software: GNU Seq, HomeBank 5.3 and Staticsite 1.4

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  • Generating numeric sequences with the Linux seq command [Ed: seq is a GNU program, not “Linux command”]

    One of the easiest ways to generate a list of numbers in Linux is to use the seq (sequence) command. In its simplest form, seq will take a single number and then list all the numbers from 1 to that number.

  • HomeBank 5.3

    HomeBank is a free software (as in "free speech" and also as in "free beer") that will assist you to manage your personal accounting. It is designed to easy to use and be able to analyse your personal finance and budget in detail using powerful filtering tools and beautiful charts. If you are looking for a completely free and easy application to manage your personal accounting, budget, finance then HomeBank should be the software of choice.

  • Staticsite for blogging

    I just released staticsite version 1.4, dedicated to creating a blog.

    After reorganising the documentation, I decided to write a simple tutorial showing how to get a new blog started.

List Of Best Useful Linux Applications For 2020

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We definitely need various applications to makes our things better while using Linux operating systems. These days there are thousands of best and useful Linux applications available on the internet.

In this blog, we decided to write about the list of best useful Linux applications for 2020. These are also one of the most used Linux applications in day to day life. We believe this list will be helpful to all Linux users no matter what their expertise is.

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Flathub 2019 roundup

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One could say that the Flathub team is working silently behind the scenes most of the time and it wouldn't be far from the truth. Unless changes are substantial, they are rarely announced elsewhere than under a pull request or issue on GitHub. Let's change it a bit and try to summarize what was going on with Flathub over the last year.

Beta branch and test builds

2019 started off strong. In February, several improvements to general workflow but also how things under the hood work landed. Maintainers gained the ability to sign-in to buildbot to manage the builds and start new ones without having to push new commits. A delay has been introduced between finishing the build and publishing it to the stable repository to the possibility to test new build locally and also publish it faster or scrap it altogether. The initial delay was 24 hours but as it was too confusing, it was shortened to 3 hours.

Perhaps most importantly, the changes made it possible to publish test builds of pull requests and completely new applications. Additionally, Flathub gained support for publishing applications to separate beta remote.

Alex wrote more about the changes on his blog.

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Also: Shell aliases for Flatpak applications

Bandwhich – A Network Bandwidth Utilization Tool for Linux

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Bandwhich, formerly known as “what”, is a terminal utility written in Rust programming language, which is used for monitoring current network bandwidth utilization by the process, connection, and remote IP/hostname. It sniffs a specified network interface and tracks IP packet size, cross-referencing it with the /proc filesystem on Linux and lsof on macOS.

Recommended Read: 16 Useful Bandwidth Monitoring Tools to Analyze Network Usage in Linux

Bandwhich is responsive to the terminal window size, shows lesser information if there isn’t much room for it. Also, it will strive to resolve IP addresses to their hostname in the background using reverse DNS.

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conrad – conferences and meetups on your terminal

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A conference, in the sense of a meeting, is a gathering of individuals who meet at an agreed place and time to discuss or engage in some common interest. There’s tons of conferences each year which will interest Linux users. No matter the size of your budget, there’s a Linux or open source conference you should attend.

Do you have problems tracking conferences? Which conferences do you plan to attend in 2020? Do you need a tool to help you track conferences you want to attend, and serve reminders to you? conrad might be the tool for you.

conrad is a free and open source command-line tool designed to help you track conferences and meetups. The tool is written in Python. Its first release was only a few months ago, so bear in mind the software is in an early stage of development. We’re looking at version 0.3.2.

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Software: Gawk, Nomacs, KeePassXC and More

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  • Create fancy text for your social media posts with this Gawk script

    Like almost everyone on the planet, I have a few social media accounts. I mostly stick to Facebook to stay up to date with friends and family and Twitter to follow a few other people.

    Have you ever wanted to make a post that includes italics or some other fancy formatting? You can easily change the text to italics or bold when you're writing an email, but most social media platforms don't provide many formatting options.

    And sometimes, I just want to put a little emphasis into what I'm writing. If I've had a really good day and I want to share that with my friends, I might want to put that text in italics. For other posts, I might want to use different formatting that will help my text stand out. Sure, you can use emoji, but sometimes a little text formatting can add that extra pizzazz to your posts.

  • Nomacs, Cool Image Viewer Application for Ubuntu Linux!

    Are you bored with the default ubuntu image viewer?. In the Linux distribution there are many applications for viewing images. Each linux distro has an image viewer application that is different from other distributions. One example is Xubuntu which uses the default, Ristretto Image Viewer application.

  • KeePassXC Password Manager 2.5.2 Released (Ubuntu PPA)

    KeePassXC, KeePass cross-platform community edition, released version 2.5.2 a few days ago. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 19.10 via PPA.

    KeePassXC 2.5.2 features significant stability and usability improvements.

  • Containers, networks, security, and more Ansible news

    Crikey, you lot have been busy writing in December. We've got more data munging from Greg Sutcliffe; we've got writing modules for orchestrating security; we've got networks, containers and thoughts from a sysadmin. No YouTubes this month—we thought you'd have enough reading here with the articles. Enjoy!

Proprietary Software Issues

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  • 5 technology trends for the roaring 20s, part 1: Blockchain, cloud, open source

    In other words, open-source is winning, in databases and beyond. There are some very good reasons why this is happening: low barrier to entry, community, innovation, interoperability. But the fact that open source is becoming the norm in enterprise software has side effects, too. To put it simply: AWS is eating open-source software because it can.

    Following customer demand, AWS has, over the last few years, added every single top open=source database to its arsenal as a managed service. This is a rather complicated issue, which we first touched on in May 2019. We are glad to see it been taken up by the likes of The New York Times, and the debate around the issue is heating up.

  • What the Death of iTunes Says About Our Digital Habits

    One of the great cultural events of the 2010s was the slow abandonment and ultimate death of iTunes. By the time the software was euthanized earlier this year, it had become an embarrassment, a mess of greasy preference panes and grayed-out, unreliable content. We were glad to see it go.

  • How Iran's [Attackers] Might Strike Back After Soleimani's Assassination [iophk: Windows TCO]

    The most likely form of cyberattack to expect from Iran will be the one it has launched repeatedly against its neighbors in recent years: so-called wiper malware designed to destroy as many computers as possible inside target networks. Iran has used wipers like Shamoon and Stone Drill to inflict waves of disruption across neighboring countries in the Middle East, starting with an attack in 2012 that destroyed 30,000 Saudi Aramco computers. In 2014, Iranian hackers hit the Las Vegas Sands corporation with a wiper after owner Sheldon Adelson suggested a nuclear strike against the country. More recently, Iran's hackers have hit private-sector targets in neighboring Gulf states like the UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait, as well as Saipem, an Italian oil firm for whom Saudi Aramco is a major customer.

Software: Shotcut, HandBrake and Radeon Software for Linux 19.50

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  • Shotcut 19.12.31

    Shotcut is a free, open source, cross-platform video editor for Windows, Mac and Linux. Major features include support for a wide range of formats; no import required meaning native timeline editing; Blackmagic Design support for input and preview monitoring; and resolution support to 4k.

  • HandBrake 1.3.1

    HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. Handbrake can process most common multimedia files and any DVD or BluRay sources that do not contain any kind of copy protection.

  • Radeon Software for Linux 19.50 Quietly Released For Newest Enterprise-Focused Driver Support

    When navigating the driver downloads area the Radeon Software for Linux 19.30 driver is still referred to, which was released back on 5 November. That 19.30 driver series has been around for a while and we've been waiting for the 19.50 series driver to match their recent Windows driver update. It turns out there is a Radeon Software for Linux 19.50 driver that is public albeit not widely advertised.

    A Phoronix reader managed to stumble upon the 19.50 driver page for Linux. The 19.50 Linux highlights are simply RHEL 8.1 and RHEL 7.7 support along with support for the CentOS 8.1/7.7 builds too. Plus support for the Radeon RX 5500 XT series. That's it as far as official changes are mentioned for this Linux driver package consisting of both the "PRO" and "All-Open" driver options.

Software: GIMP and GEGL in 2019, Scrcpy on openSUSE, TenFourFox

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  • GIMP and GEGL in 2019

    2019 was the second year in a row where we shipped updates with new features in the stable branch. Our assumption was that this could change the public’s perception of the ongoing development efforts and shift the balance towards having more contributors. Here is why.

    Between 2012 and 2018 (v2.8 and v2.10 releases respectively), we worked hard and added a ton of improvements and new features, we demoed them on social networks, mentioned them in annual reports etc., and yet we kept hearing how GIMP was dead because those changes were not in any stable releases. The same thing was happening before in the four years between v2.6 and v2.8.

  • GIMP 2.99.x Development Releases Likely Starting Soon For GIMP 3.0

    It's 2020 and GIMP remains one of the last holdouts for a major software application still relying upon the GTK2 tool-kit even with GTK4 potentially coming around the end of the calendar year. Fortunately, at least, the GIMP 2.99.x development releases on the path to the GTK3-based GIMP 3.0 should be starting up soon.

    The GIMP project put out their 2019 recap this weekend highlighting some of their advancements for the past year. Among the achievements have been greater usability of this open-source image editor, various tooling improvements, significant performance improvements throughout, a variety of file format handling improvements, new filters, and more.

  • Scrcpy on openSUSE | Display and Control Android devices over USB

    Every once in a while, I am in the position where I am tethering my computer to my phone and lazy me doesn’t like to interface with the phone when my fingers are on a real keyboard. I can’t say exactly why I am so anti-mobile at times but it’s just how it is sometimes.

    I was introduced to this application called Scrcpy which I think look like “screen copy” so that is how I verbally communicate it.


    If nothing else, this is a fun application to play with, even for the novelty of it. The only thing I can say that I wish it would do is be able to view the Android screen without turning on the backlight.

    This is only just a few highlights of this really cool application. What are the use cases for this? I can see many, really. I am not a huge fan of the phone interface. I prefer typing on a real keyboard. I have a tendency to leave my phone in another room on a charger. I am able to check mobile apps only from my computer as opposed to directly handling the phone. Another use case would be to record the screen for the purpose of a demonstration. I suppose the limitations of this is bound by the limitations of your own imagination.

  • TenFourFox FPR18 available (and the classic MacOS hits Y2K20)

    TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 18 final is now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). There are no other changes from the beta other than to update the usual certs and such. As usual, assuming no late-breaking critical bugs, it will become final Monday evening Pacific time.

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