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Links 17/7/2013: Torvalds Language Controversy, OLPC in Walmart

Posted in News Roundup at 4:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • How to Turn a PC Into a Linux Web Kiosk

    Although the PC market is in turmoil, it has never been easier to replace its out-of-date, often unsupported, bloated & infected preinstalled OS with a Linux alternative.

    In this tutorial, I’ll explain how to turn your PC into a Web kiosk. What’s a Web kiosk? It’s a PC that directs the public to a certain intended Web application. Imagine public computers found at a library or a cafe, these would be considered Web kiosks.

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Revisiting One Server Per Person

      Last December I wrote about an idea I call “One Server Per Person”, the basic idea being that if every household included their own server, the Internet could make a return to being the decentralized, distributed, and open platform it was meant to be. Recent events have brought to light some pitfalls of cloud computing, and a call for privacy online make the concept of the One Server worth a revisit. I have three projects that I would like to talk about, and how they relate to bringing the datacenter home.


      Transporter – If you took the Raspberry Pi setup above, put it in a nice plastic case, added a nice web interface and restricted its use to filesharing only, you might wind up with the Transporter from Connected Data. The Transporter is a tiny device that plugs into your home network and allows you to share your files with all of your computers and mobile devices, no matter where they are. It is like Dropbox, but hosted on your own personal server. The only drawback that I can see is that it is not open source (although I’d bet on it running Linux or FreeBSD under the hood), and it does require some form of cloud interaction with a central server to allow the connection back into your Transporter. However, as a proof of concept, it works well.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 3.11: Linux for Workgroups
    • Linux 3.11 Officially Dubbed ‘Linux for Workgroups’
    • Dear Linus, STOP SHOUTING and play nice – says Linux kernel dev
    • Is Linus Torvalds too abusive on the Linux Kernel Mailing List?
    • Is It Time to Restore Civility to Linux Development?

      Linus Torvalds is well known for his use of colorful language on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) and he’s not the only one that uses questionable language that some might considering threatening.

      For the last 20 years, I can’t remember anyone actually standing up to Linus (or the other colorful devs) saying that’s just not right — until today.

      Sarah Sharp, Linux kernel developer at Intel, is making a stand against the verbal abuse.

    • No more verbal abuse
    • Linus Torvalds defends his right to shame Linux kernel developers

      Profanity and insults have long been management tactics of Linux creator Linus Torvalds. He once memorably gave the middle finger to Nvidia; separately, he announced that he would not change Linux “to deep-throat Microsoft.” Torvalds has also shown no qualms about being rude to those who disagree with him.

    • Intel Programmer Sarah Sharp Wants Linux Creator Linus Torvalds To Knock Off The ‘Verbal Abuse’

      There’s an interesting public spat going on in the world of Linux, where a Linux programmer from Intel, Sarah Sharp, has picked a fight with the Linux creator himself: Linus Torvalds.

    • Intel Linux Developer Requests More Respect From Torvalds But Linus Isn’t Buying

      Linus Torvalds is a man of many emotions. At times, he’s got a great sense of humor – he did just name the 3.11 Linux kernel ‘Linux for Workgroups’, after all. Other times, and especially if you’re a developer making his life harder, he can be less-than-pleasant, as has been evidenced time and time again. As much as I respect Linus, I’ve long believed that it wouldn’t hurt to tone down his aggressiveness just a wee bit, and now, it’s become clear that I’m not alone.

    • Standing up against verbal abuse

      Sarah is completely right, and entitled to demand an abuse-free working environment. Thank you for making this explicit, and standing up against those that think it’s not necessary. You’re speaking for a silent crowd, that is now not so silent anymore.


      Food for thought: If we want Asian hardware manufacturers to work with us on, e.g. drivers for their hardware, and do it upstream, it simply won’t happen in a rude atmosphere that is entirely incompatible with Asian culture (where critique has to be much more subtile). Of course it’s a general problem with cultural diversity.

    • Tempest, meet teapot

      The “Linus being Linus” issue comes up occasionally, and often with a hue and cry about how mean, nasty and ugly he can be. I’ve called him on things in the past — not that he cares (he doesn’t), but at the time I thought it merited discussion. But back to the latest edition of the blow up, which can be found here, here and here, and you’ll see wherein lies the rub.

    • Female dev asks Torvalds to curb list abuse

      A female kernel developer has told Linux creator Linus Torvalds that he should stop abusing and cursing developers on the main kernel mailing list, advising him to “keep it professional on the mailing lists”.

    • Graphics Stack

      • XBMC on Wayland Compositors, take two

        In late February this year, I published a proof of concept demonstrating the XBMC Media Center on the Weston system compositor. It was basically a hack which used SDL’s existing wayland compositor support with a few additions required to make XBMC work. XBMC plans to drop SDL usage and use window systems directly, which makes a lot of sense, but it meant that this proof of concept would have to be largely rewritten.

      • XBMC Will Gain Full Wayland Support Before Mir

        XBMC developer smspillaz, the man responsible for the XBMC Weston hack a few months ago, is now rounding the final turns towards XBMC being fully compatible with Wayland. smspillaz reports that he will be doing a GSoC this year to move XBMC completely to Wayland–without the use of SDL.

      • The Current State Of OpenGL 3, OpenGL 4 In Mesa 9.2

        With the release of Mesa 9.2 being a few weeks out, here’s a current look at the OpenGL 3.x/4.x support levels within Mesa.

        The current overview of the modern OpenGL functionality offered by Mesa can be found in the latest GL3.txt Git.

      • Intel X.Org Driver Offers Various Improvements

        Chris Wilson has put out another speedy X.Org Intel graphics driver release, this time bumping it to version 2.21.12.

    • Benchmarks

      • A New & Exciting OpenGL 3 Benchmark To Run

        There’s finally a new and visually exciting OpenGL benchmark to try out for Linux, OS X, and Windows users alike. The benchmark also supports OpenGL 3.x contexts for making testing more exciting with regard to the Linux graphics driver stack.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KeePassX: Treating Your Passwords Like They’re Important

        Christmas morning 2012, one of my Gmail accounts was hacked. The good news was that it wasn’t my main account. The bad news was that it was one I used for a fair amount of work-related communication. I was lucky that I caught it quickly and was able to button it up within an hour or so, but it was a surprisingly intense experience, leaving me feeling violated, humbled, vulnerable, and silly.

      • An unexpected journey

        Since my last post quite some progress has been made in getting KWin working on top of a Wayland compositor. My main focus of work has been on the input stack. This is something I am not really familiar with as so far we did not have to care about it.

        As some might know input handling in X11 is very insecure. Every application is able to listen to every key event. And in the KDE workspaces we obviously make use of these “features”. For example the global shortcut handling is implemented as a kded module listening to all key events and notifying the application via D-Bus that the shortcut got triggered. In a post-X11 world this will not work any more: applications are no longer able to listen to all key events.

      • Akademy 2013 Day 3 in Photos – Kubuntu Developer Summit

        At the Kubuntu Developer Summit we discussed various topics. The guys on the left are from a 15,000 seat Kubuntu rollout in Munich, we worked out a plan to supply LTS backport packages they need.

      • Quick updates
      • Qt Project and Defensive Publications

        Open Source communities are amazingly innovative. Linux Defenders encourages them to document their ideas in the form of defensive publications, so that this body of knowledge becomes relevant prior art for later patent applications and patent invalidations.

      • AudioCd. Week 4.
      • Artikulate at Akademy

        Language data for Artikulate is growing. We currently have 19 units in basic course skeleton form which 18 are translated into Polish,

      • Window list QML : Update
      • Kubuntu All Stars @ Akademy

        A quiet day for me at Akademy catching up on e-mail and learning how to make an apt archive so here’s some more photos from the rocking party last night.

      • Amarok MTP (Android) GSoC: week 4; hello from Bilbao!
      • QtWebKit 2.3.2 and QtWebKit for Qt 5.1
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Selecting a GNOME 2 Successor Desktop

        GNOME 2 is the Linux desktop environment that refuses to die. Three years after its last release, GNOME 2—or, to be precise, its successors—are collectively as popular as uncustomized GNOME 3. The GNOME 2 successors scored 18 percent to GNOME 3′s 13 percent in the 2012 LinuxQuestion’s Member’s Choice poll, and 15 percent to GNOME 3′s 21 percent in the Linux Journal Readers’ Choice poll. Despite the half dozen desktops available today, GNOME 2′s successors remain leading choices.

        This persistent popularity is both a measure of the initial user dissatisfaction with the GNOME 3 release series and a triumph of branding. Initially, dissatisfaction with GNOME 3.0 caused many users to turn to Xfce. A long-time distant third to GNOME and KDE, Xfce closely resembles GNOME 2 but is generally lighter and faster.

  • Distributions

    • Distro Hopping Update
    • Bluestar Linux – full-2013.07.11 – Release

      The new 2013.07.11 Bluestar Full edition has been released and is available for download from the Bluestar Linux downloads area. This release introduces a number of new and useful features, including new icons for shutdown/reboot/logout/screenlock, and extended language installation options.

    • New Releases

      • Webconverger 21.0
      • Elive 2.1.54 development released

        This version includes some misc features like:

        Eltrans: This release includes a complete rewrite of the translator tool for Elive. With features like a grammar corrector and a proofreader mode, where the translator can modify the original sentences of the application itself, making it more userfriendly and intuitive.
        Backported Randr code from Enlightenment 18 to E17 which makes it easier to configure dual-screen and external monitors, special thanks to PrinceAMD and devilhorns.

    • Screenshots

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.10 Updates Server Security and MySQL

        Linux vendor Red Hat is updating its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (RHEL) platform with a new beta release.

        RHEL 5.10 provides users with a variety of updated capabilities, including a new version of MySQL, improved management tools and enhanced security.

      • Red Hat Named One of the 25 Best Tech Companies to Work for in 2013

        We’re excited to share that Red Hat has just been named by Business Insider as one of “The 25 Best Tech Companies to Work for in 2013.” The list was compiled using information gathered from Glassdoor.com, a free jobs and career community where employees and job seekers can provide anonymous information about different companies.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 19 – Of Schroedingers Cat and Mixed Blessings

          Fedora is one of those distributions I try from time to time but that ultimately fail to stay around, usually when it comes to the upgrade process. I last used Fedora 14, after brushes with 12 and 10, the KDE spin of which got slower with every point update to the desktop but whose LXDE spin actually got used for quite a few months. So let’s see how Fedora 19 pans out, featuring GNOME Shell 3.8.2, and how/if that has improved since I last tried the Shell when it was freshly released on the unsuspecting public.

        • Fedora 20 Might No Longer Install Syslog

          Beginning with Fedora 20, the Linux distribution is considering no longer installing rsyslog by default but would replace it with use of the systemd journal as the Fedora logging solution.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Raspberry Pi becomes Raspberry PC via Mini-ITX carrier

      Raspberry Pi embedded development firm Geekroo has surpassed its Kickstarter funding goal for a Mini-ITX board and case that extends the RPi into a full-fledged computer (SBC). The Fairywren is equipped with a 24-pin ATX power supply connector, a four-port USB hub, a 2.5-inch HDD bay, a serial port, an IR remote module, GPIO breakout, and sockets for a built-in XBee radio and Arduino Uno boards.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Should HTC Merge With Huawei?

          HTC One is a stunning device and the Taiwanese smartphone maker should be real proud of it, but being critically acclaimed doesn’t guarantee commercial success, and that exact same thing has been happening with HTC. The company’s popular flagship smartphone even though has had a positive impact on the finances, has not been enough to pull the company out of the crisis. Now analysts are suggesting that HTC should merge with the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei.

        • OLPC’s New $150 Android Tablet Is on Sale at Walmart
        • Introducing the XO Learning Tablet
        • Family Oriented XO Tablet Debuts at Walmart for $149

          The new family-friendly XO Tablet debuts July 16 on Walmart.com and will be in Walmart stores on August 1, and will provide kids with a fun and exciting new way to build, learn and dream at their own pace via a powerful Android tablet packed with free educational games, apps, videos, e-books and more. The flexible tablet also grows with the family offering up to three separate user accounts plus full-fledged Android tablet functionality with parental-controlled access to conventional Android apps and the Google Play store.

        • Android Gaming Consoles: The Ultimate Guide

          Successful Kickstarter project and highly publicized Android gaming console OUYA has ignited a feeding frenzy as competitors rise to fill the market.

        • BoxTone’s Brian Reed: Securing Android for the Enterprise

          BoxTone’s enterprise mobility management platform is designed to bring Android security up to levels better-suited to the rigors of the business workforce, but in making Android enterprise-hardened, the company left Android’s open source trappings intact.

          As part of that EMM platform, BoxTone delivers its service in three categories of functionality, according to Brian Reed, the company’s chief marketing officer and chief product officer. Mobile device management is generally the most well-known functional area; the second one is an emerging market called Web services management. The third category, mobile services management, focuses on reliability, service quality and cost efficiency.

        • $99 ARM-based PC runs either Ubuntu or Android

Free Software/Open Source


  • Security

    • Web Security

      As I write these words in mid-February 2013, many Ruby on Rails developers are worried. The framework that so many of us have used and enjoyed for so many years, turned out to have some serious security flaws. It’s not just the sort of flaw that can allow someone to modify your Web site either;these holes meant that a properly armed attacker could execute arbitrary code on your server. And nowadays, “properly armed” is not a very high threshold because of such tools as Metasploit, which make it laughably easy to launch an attack against an arbitrary computer on the Internet.

    • NSS 3.15.1 brings TLS 1.2 support to Firefox
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Lithuania accused of stonewalling over CIA jail case

      Lawyers for a man who alleges he was held in a secret CIA jail in Lithuania have accused the Baltic state of failing to give proper answers to judges considering the case at the European Court of Human Rights.

    • The CIA’s New Black Bag Is Digital

      When the NSA can’t break into your computer, these guys break into your house.

    • HyTrust trousers $13m from VMware and CIA sugar daddy In-Q-Tel

      Business is booming at HyTrust, a maker of policy management and access control software for VMware virtual infrastructure, and whistleblower system admin Edward Snowden, who revealed the National Security Agency’s web-spying PRISM project, is doing his inadvertent part to pump it up even further.


      HyTrust has been saying that IT shops should adopt a second approval rule for a lot of things that go on inside the data center for the past year, and the Snowden episode just makes this necessity all that more clear (at least, from the point of view of companies and governments).

    • How the CIA worked

      But Krasheninnikova thinks that “talking about soft power, we need to understand who developed it and for what purpose. If the concept of soft power still belongs to the U.S., we must learn the true meaning of this concept and understand how these mechanisms work. The main instrument of the cultural front of the Cold War was the “Congress for Cultural Freedom,” with offices in 35 countries and dozens of publications and programs. The majority of these programs were conducted through foundations and non-profit organizations. Some funds were very real, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Asia Foundation, they exist today, and other funds were fakes, created specifically to transfer money and to clean the CIA as a source of funds for the organization. Non-profit organizations and U.S. funds are a mere extension of the U.S. state apparatus. If someone thinks that they are truly independent, then that person is deeply mistaken. As the author says, at one point in time there was a joke: “If any American philanthropic or cultural organization includes the words “independent” or “private” in their documents, most likely it is a cover for the CIA.”


      “We have no right to have illusions and have no right to make errors,” Krasheninnikova believes. “The U.S. may make mistakes because they have enormous economic, political and military weight, and their margin for error is wide. We have almost no margin for error. For example, the situation with Libya. We have made a decision, and Libya as a state does not exist. Our mistakes cost us too much. Therefore, we must, as experts, people who are involved in the processes of government, be responsible for the decisions, be responsible for the fate of the country. And so we must have the possibility of a deeper understanding of the current processes, understanding of history, as they provide a much more accurate prediction of the future, of the steps of the United States. America’s not going anywhere, we have to deal with America for a long time, as long as we exist. Therefore, we need to know this actor exceptionally well.”

    • CIA human resources hiring wrong (ethical) people

      What’s wrong with human resources officials of the CIA and U.S. Army intelligence? Their ineptitude is damaging the image of Western democracy by hiring people that let the truth out.

    • Public deserves to know what’s in CIA torture report: Guest opinion

      Yes, America, we tortured. And there is a step that Oregonians can take now to help ensure that U.S.-sponsored torture never happens again.

      The torture in which our government engaged was illegal, abhorrent and cruel. Detainees died as a result of American torture, and former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld knew about it and were involved in authorizing it.

    • US drones kill nine ‘militants’

      AT least nine suspected militants, including two foreigners, were killed in Pakistan’s lawless tribal region in a US drone strike and a separate Pakistan military operation, security officials have said.

    • U.S. drones, Pakistan military attacks kill 19 militants

      At least 19 suspected militants, including two foreigners, were killed in Pakistan’s lawless tribal region overnight in a Pakistani military operation and a separate U.S. drone strike, security officials said on Sunday.

      Read more: U.S. drones, Pakistan military attacks kill 19 militants – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_23658987/u-s-drones-pakistan-military-attacks-kill-19#ixzz2ZL0sPsmq
      Read The Denver Post’s Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse
      Follow us: @Denverpost on Twitter | Denverpost on Facebook

    • Thanks to lobby effort, flawed drone still flying despite Pentagon, White House objections

      Despite needed cuts to big ticket US defense programs, an investigation into Northrop Grumman’s lobbying efforts reveals the military contractor kept its costly Global Hawk drone flying despite the Pentagon’s own attempt to kill the project.

    • Actually, drones worry Europe more than spying
    • Snowden’s Contingency: ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ Borrows From Cold War, WikiLeaks

      The strategy employed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to discourage a CIA hit job has been likened to a tactic employed by the U.S. and Russian governments during the Cold War.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Julian Assange calls upcoming Dreamworks film ‘a mass propaganda attack against WikiLeaks’

      Earlier this week we got our first look at actor Benedict Cumberbatch playing Julian Assange in the forthcoming WikiLeaks film The Fifth Estate — but Assange himself has some particularly harsh words for the production. In a speech before the Oxford Union, Assange revealed that a draft of the script for the Dreamworks project had in fact been shared with WikiLeaks, and he called it “a mass propaganda attack against WikiLeaks the organization, and the character of my staff and our activities, and so on.”

    • Meet the Journalist Who Connects the Dots Between Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, and the NSA

      Barrett Brown is a journalist imprisoned without bail, facing over 100 years of potential jail time, much of it for posting an http link to a public forum. He had been writing about several private intelligence companies and set up a Wikipedia-like site, ProjectPM, for crowdsourced analysis of the documents released by Anonymous after several hacking attacks. Some people are petitioning for Brown’s freedom from what they view as a politically targeted prosecution, but this article will concentrate on what the information Brown has uncovered can do to explain how PRISM and related spying programs may be used against Americans. The official government line has been that PRISM is targeted at foreign terrorists, but it’s just as likely that the program will be used to frustrate expressions of political opinion at home.

  • Finance

    • How capitalism’s great relocation pauperised America’s ‘middle class’

      As long as workers could wrest gains from capitalism, the system was safe. But with production offshored, that bargain blew up

    • Secret TPP Deal Would Void Democracy

      TPP talks held in British Columbia in June were kept secret, but Canadian activists learned about them the day before from an article in the Peruvian media. Opponents hustled to hold an emergency teach-in and to project messages about the TPP on downtown Vancouver buildings. More talks will take place July 15-25 in Malaysia. Photo: Citizens Trade Campaign. – See more at: http://www.labornotes.org/2013/07/secret-tpp-deal-would-void-democracy#sthash.yPy3NTN9.dpuf

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Cashing in on Kids: 139 ALEC Bills in 2013 Promote a Private, For-Profit Education Mode

      Despite widespread public opposition to the education privatization agenda, at least 139 bills or state budget provisions reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) education bills have been introduced in 43 states and the District of Columbia in just the first six months of 2013, according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org. Thirty-one have become law.

    • Obama, Like Ike, ‘Avoided Military Adventures’? Not Quite

      New York Times reporter Peter Baker has a piece today (7/16/13) about Barack Obama and Dwight Eisenhower that presents a somewhat confusing picture of both.

      The article is about how Obama wields power–or, in the eyes of some critics, fails to take advantage of the “bully pulpit.”

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • McAfee Weekly..Who’s watching who?

      And now, living in a world of instant everything, I worry about huge number of people who blindly read and believe almost anything posted, pinned, linked or Tweeted. It scares me.

    • Snowden Backlash: US Media Get Persona

      As the mainstream American press goes after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, the leakers’ revelations are becoming an afterthought.

    • Voter ID Laws: More He Said, She Said

      The recent Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act is bound to bring voter ID laws back into the media discussion. And, unfortunately, that means some of these discussions will suffer from a familiar problem: The unwillingness to point out that the problem such laws are allegedly fighting–voter fraud–doesn’t exist.

    • Racism and Richard Cohen

      That platform is more likely belongs to someone like Cohen–who, in 1986, wrote a column defending store owners in Washington, D.C. who refused to allow young black men to enter their stores because of a fear of crime. The Post apologized to readers. This time around they probably won’t.

    • NDAA: It Still Makes a Mockery Of American Values

      But what the NDAA has done is essentially codified the elimination of one of the most important restrictions on state power. These restraints — that the burden of proof is on the state, that nobody can be locked in a cage without due process, that only the civilian police force is allowed to make arrests — are some of the most revolutionary legacies of Western liberalism and represent one of the starting points of anything resembling a free society.

      But thanks to the president’s stroke of a pen and a Congress that resembles the rubber-stamping body of the Roman Empire, these constitutional restrictions, written by men who combed through history for the devices that were intended to keep state power in a box, have been legislated away.

    • Military seeks stay of Guantanamo groin search ban

      The Obama Administration and the U.S. military are asking a federal judge to put a hold on his order blocking groin searches of Guantanamo Bay prisoners in connection with attorney visits.

    • Why Doctors Oppose Force-Feeding Guantanamo Hunger Strikers

      For centuries, the act of refusing food has turned human bodies into effective political bargaining chips. And so it’s no surprise that the prisoners desperate to leave Guantanamo after, in some cases, nearly a dozen years there, have turned to hunger strikes on and off since 2005 to try to win their release.

      For years, the Pentagon officials who run the detention camp have responded by prisoners. Currently, some 45 of the 104 hunger-striking captives are receiving the procedure, as many people learned this week when a graphic video featuring Yasiin Bey, the rapper and actor formerly known as Mos Def, went viral. While Bey’s performance may be part publicity stunt, doctors say it does help expose the unethical treatment and some of the pain of the Gitmo detainees subjected to force-feeding.

    • Twenty trade union leaders murdered in the Philippines over the last decade

      Antonio Petalcorin, President of the Network of Transport Organisation (NETO) has been shot dead on his way to a union meeting. Antonio is one of twenty trade union leaders to have been murdered over the course of the last decade, and one of up to 1,000 politically motivated killings in the Philippines.

    • Chris Hedges Responds to NDAA Defeat, Says It’s a ‘Black Day’ for Liberty

      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has dealt a terrible blow to Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky and the other activists and journalists suing to prevent the indefinite military detention of American citizens.

    • NDAA Indefinite Detention Lawsuit Thrown Out

      A federal appeals court on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit targeting a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that opponents argue could be used to indefinitely detain American citizens on mere suspicions of terrorism.

      The journalists and activists who brought the case argued that the NDAA unconstitutionally gives the president the authority to detain anyone he suspects of teaming up with al Qaeda or the Taliban, anywhere. They argued that even those who merely spoke with terrorists — like former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges — might be in danger.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Mobile roaming and the four stages of grief

      On Tuesday of last week I announced a package of measures to be presented in September – for a telecommunications single market, bringing down barriers to support a sector critical for our future growth.

      The focus of some of the immediate reactions to this speech has been on mobile roaming. Operators have long resisted attempts to stop them charging well over the odds on roaming rates. And it appears that they are continuing to do so.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • HBO Asks Google To Take Down “Infringing” VLC Media Player

        “It’s no secret that copyright holders are trying to take down as much pirated content as they can, but their targeting of open source software is something new. In an attempt to remove pirated copies of Game of Thrones from the Internet, HBO sent a DMCA takedown to Google, listing a copy of the popular media player VLC as a copyright infringement. An honest mistake, perhaps, but a worrying one. … Usually these notices ask Google to get rid of links to pirate sites, but for some reason the cable network also wants Google to remove a link to the highly popular open source video player VLC. … The same DMCA notice also lists various other links that don’t appear to link to HBO content, including a lot of porn related material, Ben Harper’s album Give Till It’s Gone, Naruto, free Java applets and Prince of Persia 5.”

      • VLC Media Player Making Good Progress In Qt5 Port
      • Features Coming For The VLC 2.1 Media Player

        The VLC 2.1 media player update is due out in the coming weeks and with it will come several new features for the open-source program.

        After the excitement this morning about the VLC port to Qt 5 nearly working, I decided to check in on the state of VLC 2.1 — the next major release for the project — and what features it shall possess.

TechBytes Episode 83: Richard Stallman on Data Collection and Encryption

Posted in TechBytes at 4:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Direct download as Ogg (00:09:59, 5.7 MB)

Summary: Stallman speaks about encryption, privacy, and data collection as the main problem

THE problem with data collection and at times indefinite retention of data in very colossal datacentres is a very real problem. The target datacentres are coupled with NSA/GCHQ/other datacentres, perhaps built with functionality to mimic the original systems (e.g. Facebook, Google search, Skype) by intercepting packets over the networks (at the exchanges), then assembling/decrypting those in private/secretive databases (based on Bill Binney’s repeated claims as an NSA whistleblower, yet to be confirmed by Snowden’s leaks).

“…if packets get multiplexed at router-level and then stored in another, external system, then approaching companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple etc. is not even necessary.”Statements about FISA courts, national security letters, etc. are being used as a distraction from what can be characterised as direct access even though it is not direct access per se. After all, if packets get multiplexed at router-level and then stored in another, external system, then approaching companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple etc. is not even necessary. This bypasses the need for warrants, which would basically be needed only when data hoarding failed to get the entire signal (Binney estimates that about 60% of the data gets hoarded and stored in the US).

All the vague claims about foiling of terror plots, where some of the named examples were famously stopped not by the NSA but by other means, do make one wonder if there is a way to stop surveillance without getting characterised as “aiding the enemy.” Citing civil rights issues (such as indefinite detention as per NDAA 2013), I recently spoke to Stallman about data collection and found that his solution would be to limit data collection, not just retention. This recording is 10 minutes long and it deals with the topic at hand quite concisely.

We hope you will join us for future shows and consider subscribing to the show via the RSS feed. You can also visit our archives for past shows. If you have an Identi.ca account, consider subscribing to TechBytes in order to keep up to date.

As embedded (HTML5):

Keywords: gnu fsf richardstallman


Ogg Theora

Bias From Patents Maximalists Paints Google and Microsoft as Being in Patents ‘Alliance’

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg, patents maximalist and Wall Street’s guardian

Summary: How a couple of companies in a dispute (Microsoft attempts to ban and/or tax Google’s Android/Linux) get characterised as allies in plutocrats-owned media

Earlier this week the patent lawyers wrote about a notorious patent troll called Erich Spangenberg [1, 2, 3]. This alludes to an article we cited here beforehand and it says: “The New York Times has a couple of articles (here and here) today that focus on Erich Spangenberg, the CEO of IPNav, identified by RPX as the US’s most litigious NPE. There’s a lot of colour in both pieces, none of which will comes as a surprise to experienced operators in the IP markets. But in terms of new information there is very little; though one fact did stand out: the deal offered to Parallel Iron, an SME which got $250,000 from IPNav in return for a fixed-term exclusive licence to monetise its patents: “Parallel Iron would keep 42.5 percent of any settlement revenue and verdicts, with the rest split between IPNav and the lawyers it hired.” That strikes me as probably being a lot more than those patents would have a chance of generating were Parallel Iron to do the monetisation job itself.”

The New York Times article was also mentioned by vocal patent critics:

The New York Times goes after patent trolls in a long review in the Sunday paper link here. Its author, David Segal, thinks he has found the worst offender, Erich Spangenberg, whose company, IPNav, even has a classy website, link here on which it claims to have “Monetized to date: $610,549,103″ and makes its sales pitch to existing and prospective clients.

IP Nav was criticised by Troll Tracker, which uses some humour. These raiders/trolls are no laughing matter. This is extortion, akin to what Intellectual Ventures does at a much bigger scale. We should call for prosecution.

The same site as above (patent lawyers and boosters) spreads the dubious claim that Microsoft and Google have a lot in common when it comes to patents, bolstered perhaps by this sensationalist report/bizarre article calling it alliance between those two companies. Susan Decker, who routinely promotes this type of thinking, pretends that Google and Microsoft are in the same camp because they agree on something which just about every company agrees on. They “seek to curb litigation practices of firms demanding royalties,” it says, but what is Microsoft if not exactly that? This summary is misleading, but the same poor reporting has spread elsewhere following the report from patent booster Bloomberg (a plutocrats with press ownership and Wall Street agenda). This is far from the first time we complain about pro-patents bias in Bloomberg. Even yesterday, to give a brand-new example, one could find another one of those ridiculous “Intellectual Property” reports, again reinforcing the fiction about Google and Microsoft sidling (right at the start). Shame on this ongoing attempt to lump together copyrights with trademarks and with patents. It’s a deliberate way to legitimise patent monopolies and it has been going on in this paper/channel for quite some time. They also lump in patents with “Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage ” (scroll down to the bottom). Appalling. Readers should complain.

Looking at some actual realities, Microsoft is behind many such trolls and Microsoft itself acts like a troll. Why compare it to the victim, Google? Microsoft has been trying hard to embargo Google products and even filed antitrust complaints by proxy. Now there is this other weird motion to prevent Google from competing:

The Android market has really taken off in India with majority of Smartphones in the country running on Google’s Android platform. However, DNA and PTI has brought in a shocking news, which says that Telecom Minister, Kapil Sibal plans to ban Android in India, accusing the mobile OS to carry adult applications which are unsuitable for minors.

It is worth exploring if some pressure from Android rivals played a role here. In any event, here is another new development in Microsoft’s patent fight against Android:

Microsoft, that devilish litigation machine, now wants to win by summary judgment in the Seattle RAND patent case against Motorola on the next question to be tried, whether Motorola violated a duty of good faith as to its RAND licensing commitments. Motorola, naturally, opposes [PDF]. It wants its day in court with a jury, not just this judge, who keeps beating Motorola up. At least in Seattle courtrooms, it seems Microsoft can do no wrong.

To describe Google and Microsoft as being in an “alliance” on patents is very deceiving. Microsoft engages in racketeering against Android, which really merits a jail sentence, not some fairy tale or an illusion of friendship. Bloomberg should grow out of its habit of deceiving the public.

Why Free/Libre Software Should be Promoted Using Privacy Arguments, Too

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 3:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sign for privacy

Summary: An opportunity for Free software advocacy in an age of privacy concerns, policy incompatibility with warrantless surveillance, and increased Microsoft distrust due to collusion with the NSA

Ethical rather than purely practical reasons have been used to promote software freedom, referencing examples of malicious features like DRM and privacy violations, including back doors (which are not just privacy-infringing). As the Web grows and more data gets accumulated, it is increasingly being realised that privacy does matter to a lot of people. They start to demand that software and services no longer spy on them.

With the NSA leaks, we now have concrete proof of the lack of privacy everywhere. E-mails are now the digital equivalent of postcards, where the mailman can read everything and many other people in between can inspect the contents without leaving traces, even tampering with the content (as some people reported in the case of E-mail). Datacentres offer no real security from warrantless surveillance, either. To make matters worse, whatever Web browser and network setup we use, the ISP helps spy on us and the sites we visit spy on us too, then sell data about us. There was also spying on diplomats in G8 summits, showing that nobody is immune to it. Data, unless stored locally (and preferably encrypted), is hardly safe anymore, certainly not when it’s stored remotely and passed over the wires (repositioning and shifting of the data between datacentres helps change the laws, too). With reliable and ubiquitous encryption this would mostly be a solved problem, but mathematicians at the NSA always try to stay a step ahead and break encryption, storing indefinitely encrypted traffic.

Microsoft is not just another company when it comes to surveillance. Based on recent leaks, we now have it confirmed that a lot of software including Microsoft Skype is simply spyware, as we shall document soon in our Microsoft and the NSA wiki page (overview of privacy issues). Bill Gates has been spying on children recently [1, 2] and also funded crowd control/police state for profit. Regarding the latest revelations about the NSA-Microsoft collusion we have this article which slams Microsoft’s biggest investor and co-founder:

Establishment Hero Bill Gates Sold You Out to the NSA, But That’s Not All…

Bill Gates gets heaped with praise from the establishment for his business prowess and his so-called philanthropy. In turn, society seems to elevate him to near godlike status for his generosity and “humanitarian work”. He’s been the poster child for the “see, not all big corporations are evil” argument. Well, not anymore.

Recent revelations that his company Microsoft has, for decades, built backdoors for government spying may put a few chinks in Gates’ shining public armor.

And if one dares look any closer at Gates’ other endeavors, they may discover that their intentions are not nearly as benevolent as general public perception leads us to believe.

First, let me try to outline just how completely Microsoft sold you out to spy agencies. After NSA whistleblower Snowden outed Microsoft as complicit in the PRISM information sharing program, it has come to light that NSA has a backdoor to Microsoft-owned Skype, Windows operating system updates contain bypasses for the NSA, the encryption for Outlook is unlocked for the NSA prior to launches, and Internet Explorer is likely the most compromised.

In short, this means the NSA has nearly full access to roughly 92% of the commercial computers in the world.


Bill Gates is an admitted advocate of population reduction. He’s admitted that the goal of his immunization aid to third world countries is to reduce population. Don’t believe me? See here, here, and here. Also, through his foundation he owns 500,000 shares of Monsanto’s stock and he is a public salesman GMO crops around the world. And this is just the scratching the surface of who the real Bill Gates is.

Gates is a monopoly-man sell-out who now has nearly unlimited resources to dedicate to eradicating the plague he calls humanity from the earth.

Hopefully, this Microsoft spying story will cause more people to question Gates’ true intentions and those of an establishment that would deceive us into thinking he’s somehow a knight in shining armor. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The bottom line is, now more than before we can show people compelling reasons not to trust Microsoft and to use Free software wherever possible. Proprietary software serves plutocrats.

The War on Freedom of Information

Posted in Deception at 3:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Julian Assange and Richard Stallman
Julian Assange and Richard Stallman a few days ago

Summary: In the age when information is a virtual weapon, a war on FOIA requests or forced transparency (e.g. leaks of policy) takes centre stage

There is a war on dissent going on and also collusion among nations and their security services that are secretive and sometimes bypass the law (hence the need for secrecy). Those who are in power (plutocrats and those who represent them) run political systems that are not perfect and there are inherent flaws and sources and friction within them. They know this.

A noteworthy observation is increasingly being made and that observation depends on those with knowledge of how to keep and control information to better counter those in power, potentially to offer alternatives, which of course frightens the status quo. In a way, those who know how to encrypt and generally dodge surveillance are well-equipped in challenging power amidst an information war, where state propaganda for instance struggles against hearsay or independent thinking. The biggest threat to plutocrats is information. Remember: a plutocrat’s first line of defence is public ignorance.

Panorama of Richard Stallman: The P Series (2013)

Posted in Site News at 3:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman

Photo from Stallman.org

Summary: Upcoming series of discussions with the founding father of Free (as in freedom) software and the GNU project

The ‘P’ series, as one might call it, explores the opinions of Dr. Stallman and documents a concise version of them in TechBytes Video. It is subdivided into short segments so as to make it easier to follow a long interview. It is split into distinguishable parts that are quick to download (or stream), link to by topic, and generally share without over-encumbering the recipient (a downside of public talks on the Web, sometimes with informal Q&A sessions appended). Not many people have the patience and the time to watch over an hour of video, let alone listen to hours of audio alone (at least not consecutively).

Each part in this series is summarised by a word starting with the letter P, based on an outline I wrote on the train to Oxford (where I met Stallman). All parts were filmed in Wolfson College at Oxford University and they were never edited to embellish, remove or alter the context (maybe just to crop out completely irrelevant chat). This is not a staged interview (some groups do stage their interviews) and Stallman was not shown these topics in advance. This is being stated upfront because all individuals have some weaknesses when they cannot prepare for questions and cannot rely on editing to remove sneezing, pauses, interruptions, etc.

Videos were filmed using Android 4.0, which is Free software. These videos are made available in free formats (codecs) as Stallman wishes for people to get Free software and not be required to install proprietary software in order to watch him.

Over the next few months we will release segments touching on the following topics, all starting with the letter P. Those topics are:

Privacy – NSA surveillance, ECHELON, storage/network backbones

Progress – On transparency/accountability in government, petitions and popular action, independence from political parties

Piracy’ – Copyrights as censorship, war on sharing using copyright as pretext, inadequacy for digital age economics

Press – Corporate ownership, involvement with secret services (confirmed in the UK)

Proprietary software – Firmware, compilation from source and assurance, freedom aspects (for developers and users)

Plutocrats – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or plutocrats in general

Price hikes – Inflation, LIBOR, banking institutions, trade agreements

Poverty – High child poverty levels (among Western nations), minimum wage policy, part-time/temporary worker loopholes

Protectionism – Lobbying, subsidies from taxpayers, bailout assurances, government contracts (no tender)

Public health service – Number one cause of bankruptcies in the United States, where around 1.5 million families file for bankruptcy every year

Prisons/penal system – Privatisation as root cause for high incarceration rates. Swartz, Hammond, ‘Weev’ and the fight against (non-government-employed) hackers.

Protest – Sit-ins, boycotts, whistleblowers

Politics – drone warfare, torture, indefinite detention

Power versus those who speak truth to power – Obama’s journalists-targetting crackdown, Hastings’ death while working on a massive NSA/CIA story (then having people whom he knew harassed by the FBI, Wikileaks’ lawyer contacted a few hours before a suspicious accident), no-fly lists or flagged passengers (GAP manager says meeting Assange leads to that and a microphone was recently found planted in the Ecuadorian embassy in London)

Police – Strategy of group infiltration (especially notorious in the United Kingdom), secret courts/laws/interpretations

Patents – UPC (unitary patent in the EU), scope of patents, expansionism (e.g. export of laws to New Zealand)

Parenting/Censorship – Racism, child abuse, political dissent, state secrets, passwords leak, threatening messages (e.g. threats of violence)

Potentially also (at a later point):

Peace – Motivations of the arms industry, divide-and-rule strategy, class warfare (or race and sexuality as sources of friction), multiculturalism

Prose – Poems and other writings

Pets – Cats and dogs, parrots, appreciation of nature, including flora

Public relations – Reputation damage to the Free Software Foundation, the GPL, and people who are associated with these

Peer to Peer – Infrastructure of networks, centralisation, so-called ‘cloud’ computing

Profiling – Facebook tagging by automated face recognition, geographic tagging, graphing of connections, data-mining browsing habits and content composition, automatic uploading of device-stored data, and the long-term impact of these developments

Polarisation – Status as ‘controversial’, why it is essential to think outside the box and persist even if it may inadvertently offend someone

Personal – Influences (television, radio, books, intellectuals) when growing up

Partner – Personal ad targeting a suitable lady, dedication to the GNU project which is akin to a child

Predictions – Something along the lines of Orwell about the boot crushing us, what we can expect to see happening to our freedom in the future

Stallman has been reading Techrights for quite some time, so we hope he and his work will become a regular feature in this Web site. My full-time job, my family, and dedication to sports generally leave with with minimal time to dedicate to Techrights, so it sure helps when others contribute. I’ve been corresponding a lot with Stallman recently and I understand how he feels rarely to receive credit for his sacrifices and achievements.

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