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Links 5/12/2014: Image of Meizu MX4, Tizen 2.3 Rev1 SDK, $65 MIPS Development Board, YotaPhone 2

Posted in News Roundup at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Washing, Kali Story, and Fedora RC4

    In the Linuxphere today Adam Williamson announced Fedora 21 Final Release Candidate 4. Lifehacker is running an interview with Kali developer Mati Aharoni and the Linux Foundation released a study on Linux usage trends. Patrick Masson discusses “openwashing” and Linux gaming reaches new milestones. In software news Opera 26 was released, Eric Geier presents firewall options, and The Register features 10 “freeware apps” for Linux.

  • Unhappy Node.js users fork the Joyent-run project, creating community-driven io.js

    The Node.js server-side Javascript runtime is today’s hot thing. You might say it’s the Ruby on Rails of the ’10s. Where developers used to code in Perl and PHP, then Ruby/Rails, today’s startup-fueled web-development world is all about Javascript on the server, and Node is the grease that makes it all go.

  • The Ongoing Wars Against Free Tech

    We’re still suspicious of their motives and know they would destroy us tomorrow if they could — but that doesn’t worry us, because they can’t. They have too much on their plate as they fight for survival. But even if they didn’t we still wouldn’t be afraid — not of them, nor of Oracle or anyone else who’d like nothing better than to squish us under their thumbs. We’ve won. As Dwight Merriman, co-founder of DoubleClick – a closed company if ever there was one — told me recently when I asked him about open source in the enterprise, “I think it’s mainstream.” He should know; he’s on our side now.

    These days the future of FOSS is pretty secure; we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. We even seem to be slowly gaining the upper hand on the patent front, with many recent court rulings taking the wind out of the trolls’ sails, if you’ll excuse the cliche.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Fraudulent apps stalk Apple’s App Store

      The scale of the problem became apparent in an open source project where I volunteer, the Apache OpenOffice community. For several months, the user support mailing list has been bothered with apparently random questions — some very angry — from people seeking support for an iPad app. The community has been confused by these questions, since they have nothing to do with any work at Apache; Apache OpenOffice doesn’t even have an iOS version.

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD-Forked Bitrig Finally Sees Its Initial Release

      Back in 2012 OpenBSD got forked as Bitrig and as of this week the initial release is finally available.

      Bitrig launched to focus on supporting modern architectures, a focus on LLVM/Clang rather than GCC, and other modern development focuses compared to OpenBSD carrying a lot of legacy support.


  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

    • Become a Conservancy Supporter Today!

      The current Zeitgeist of the broader Open Source and Free Software community incubated his disturbing mindset. Our community suffers now from regular and active cooption by for-profit interests. The Trade Association Executive’s fundraising claim — which probably even bears true in their subset of the community — shows the primary mechanism of cooption: encourage funding only from a few, big sources so they can slowly but surely dictate project policy.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content


  • CIOs fight back in battle for control of ICT spending

    CIOs are under pressure from their line-of-business colleagues who are reportedly exerting greater influence over IT purchasing decisions, according to a newly released global study.

    The shift away from CIOs has caused them to change their priorities for their businesses as they turn to new measures to regain control of ICT spending.

  • Science

    • To address tech’s diversity woes, start with the vanishing Comp Sci classroom

      In May 2014 at the all-girls Emma Willard School in upstate New York, nearly a third of the school’s 300+ students were preparing for their final Advanced Placement (AP) exams. But exactly three were studying for the AP Computer Science exam—and they weren’t doing so on campus. The school (full disclosure: my alma mater) completely eliminated its computer science program in 2009.

  • Security

    • Sony Pictures leak shows employees used worst passwords ever

      Everyone is bad at passwords; that’s nothing new. But if you’re working at a high-profile studio like Sony, perhaps you should choose a better password than “s0ny123″ or “password.”

    • Google Can Now Tell You’re Not a Robot With Just One Click

      On Wednesday, Google announced that many of its “Captchas”—the squiggled text tests designed to weed out automated spambots—will be reduced to nothing more than a single checkbox next to the statement “I’m not a robot.” No more typing in distorted words or numbers; Google says it can, in many cases, tell the difference between a person or an automated program simply by tracking clues that don’t involve any user interaction. The giveaways that separate man and machine can be as subtle as how he or she (or it) moves a mouse in the moments before that single click.

    • “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” is as annoying as reCAPTCHA if…

      When completing an online form, proving that you’re not a robot can be very annoying. Sometimes even frustrating, especially if the website uses reCAPTCHA or a similar implementation of a system that asks you to decipher some cryptic text.

      I don’t use reCAPTCHA on this website, but I do encounter it on other websites. So it was heart-warming to learn that Google has released a new implementation of reCAPTCHA called No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA that doesn’t come with reCAPTCHA’s annoying aspects.

      The official announcement has it that “a significant number of users will be able to securely and easily verify they’re human without actually having to solve a CAPTCHA. Instead, with just a single click, they’ll confirm they are not a robot.”

      What’s not to like about that? But is it as simple as that? And how does the system know that the entity completing a form is a human and not an automated script? The simplest way to find out is to try and complete an online form protected from bots by No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA.

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • Unhappy Node.js users fork the Joyent-run project, creating community-driven io.js
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • How I was censored by The Guardian for writing about Israel’s war for Gaza’s gas

      After writing for The Guardian for over a year, my contract was unilaterally terminated because I wrote a piece on Gaza that was beyond the pale. In doing so, The Guardian breached the very editorial freedom the paper was obligated to protect under my contract. I’m speaking out because I believe it is in the public interest to know how a Pulitizer Prize-winning newspaper which styles itself as the world’s leading liberal voice, casually engaged in an act of censorship to shut down coverage of issues that undermined Israel’s publicised rationale for going to war.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • A political statement – not a principled plan

      With more money available the prices of houses at the lower end will increase – a bribe to current homeowners with houses valued between £125k and £750k – exactly those swing voters predominantly located in marginal constituencies.

    • Chicago Tribune Ignores Experts On New City-Wide Minimum Wage Increase

      Chicago City Council Voted To Increase Minimum Wage To $13 Per Hour In 2019. On December 2, Chicago’s 50-member city council “overwhelmingly” approved a plan to increase the city’s minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2019 with only five alderman opposing the measure. Chicago will raise its minimum wage to $10 next year, and increase the minimum wage “by steps of 50 cents and $1″ until the $13 dollar an hour mark is reached in 2019. Approximately 400,000 workers in the city will be affected by the increase. [Associated Press, 12/2/14]

    • Zero-hours contracts are forcing me out of teaching

      I love teaching. It is what I was born to do. I’m a thirtysomething further education teacher with a first class degree, a PGCE, qualified teacher status and two subject specialisms, who has repeatedly been rated outstanding in my teaching.

      I’m also a parent of a 15-year-old child with an autistic spectrum disorder and straight after I have written this piece, I will be leaving teaching.

      I’m not unusual. I’ve been on zero-hours contracts for some time and it has finally got to me. I’m tired of thinking I’ve secured a future for me and my child, tired of thinking I won’t have to worry about whether we both eat or whether we have heating, tired of worrying how we will cope if my child loses their school coat. As I explained yesterday on 5Live, I’ve decided to leave teaching for a supermarket job that will give me the security of knowing how much I’ll have available to pay my bills each month.

  • Privacy

    • Securing Blockchain.info Users with Tor and SSL

      Over the past couple of weeks there has been a marked increase in the number of man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks against Tor users of web based Bitcoin wallet provider Blockchain.info. One user reported 63 bitcoin stolen, and there were many other examples as the thefts continued despite warnings to users. The attacks were so successful that Blockchain resorted to blocking all traffic to the wallet service from Tor exit nodes.

    • Sifting Fact from Fiction with All Writs and Encryption: No Backdoors

      Following recent reports in the Wall Street Journal and Ars Technica, there’s been new interest in the government’s use of a relatively obscure law, the All Writs Act. According to these reports, the government has invoked the All Writs Act in order to compel the assistance of smartphone manufacturers in unlocking devices pursuant to a search warrant. The reports are based on orders from federal magistrate judges in Oakland and New York City issued to Apple and another unnamed manufacturer (possibly also Apple) respectively, requiring them to bypass the lock screen on seized phones and enable law enforcement access.

    • Congress Quietly Decides To Delete Key NSA Reform In CRomnibus Agreement

      You may recall, back in June, that there was a key House vote that took NSA supporters by surprise. An amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill pushed by a bi-partisan team of Thomas Massie, Jim Sensenbrenner and Zoe Lofgren passed overwhelmingly, with a plan to slam the door shut on questionable NSA “backdoor searches” (as described in detail earlier). The House voted 293 to 123, making it a pretty clear and overwhelming statement that Congress did not, in fact, support such practices by the NSA.

    • Use Tor Browser, get your computer blacklisted

      But I was surprised today when I tried to use it from Tor Browser and it failed to generate a short URL. Instead, I got this message: “Your computer is blacklisted; cannot make ur1s!”

  • Civil Rights

    • An ‘Entertaining’ Lesson on How Cops Can ‘Win the Media’ After They Kill

      The class, taught by PR agent Rick Rosenthal, focused on such topics as “Managing the Media When Things Get Ugly (Think Ferguson).” A flyer promoting the class promised, “In addition to the Ferguson case study, this fast-paced class is jam-packed with the essential strategies and tactics, skills and techniques that will help you WIN WITH THE MEDIA!”

      Sound boring? Not at all! “The training is also highly entertaining,” the flyer emphasized. “You will learn a lot, and you’ll have fun doing it!”

    • Many Convicted of Crimes They Didn’t Commit

      Why are people falsely convicted? The reasons include mistaken witness identification, false confession, official misconduct, perjury, false accusation, and false or misleading forensic evidence. As Lavender reports, “The factors involved in a wrongful conviction vary depending on the crime.” In child sexual abuse cases, for instance, over 80% of exonerations involve perjury or false accusation. By contrast, in sexual assault cases, a majority of exonerations hinge on mistaken witness identification.

    • Baggage-theft ring busted at JFK Airport

      Seven contractors were rounded up for swiping electronic items, jewelry and other items from checked baggage at Kennedy Airport’s Terminals 4 and 7 between 2012 and June of this year, officials said. The thieves would then sell the items they stole.

    • In NYT’s Retelling of Eric Garner’s Death, the Officer’s Arm Has a Mind of Its Own

      It’s debatable whether or not you’d refer to Garner as resisting; he’s certainly loudly protesting that he’d done nothing wrong, and he does not appear eager to put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed. But that “resistance” lasted a few seconds before he was choked.

    • NYPD Invokes Notorious Glomar Response

      The Glomar Response dates back to the 1970s, and allows agencies to respond that they can “neither confirm or deny” as a response to requests for information made under the federal Freedom of Information Act, when responding might compromise national security or privacy. As CJ Ciaramella writes, “The Glomar doctrine gives agencies the obvious power to hide the existence of records, but it also allows agencies to short-circuit the appeal process, since requestors can’t file an appeal for records they don’t know exist.” In Abdur-Rashid’s case, the NYPD argued that responding to his request would disclose, in Campbell’s words, “sensitive information about the department’s investigative techniques.”

    • Wash. Post Digs In Its Heels On Botched Immigration Fact Check
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • What Canada can teach the U.S. about net neutrality

      If there are two ways in which the Internet is similar in the United States and Canada, it’s that it’s slow and expensive in both places relative to many developed countries. The big difference, however, is that Canada is looking into doing something about it.

      The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission—the northern equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—is in its second week of hearings on how to ensure that Internet subscribers get access to the newest and fastest services at the best prices possible.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TTIP Update XLIV

      One reason for this hiatus is that there has been a change at the top. Karel De Gucht has relinquished his post, which has been taken by the Swede Cecilia Malmström. She is adopting a very different style, not least in terms of her attitude to the public. Faced by the growing scepticism about TTIP’s benefits, and anger over its complete lack of any meaningful transparency, Malmström has taken a conciliatory approach, promising more openness, some of which has now been announced.

      But Malmström is still trotting out the same old misinformation about TTIP. In a recent opinion piece she published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the paragraph about ISDS is particularly pernicious. Malmström says that European member states have signed a total of 1400 agreements that include ISDS; this is presumably to “prove” that ISDS is completely normal and totally harmless. Neither is true.

    • Copyrights

      • ISPs Must Take Responsibility For Sony Movie Leaks, MP Says

        As the fallout from the Sony hack continues, who is to blame for the leak of movies including Fury, which has been downloaded a million times? According to the UK Prime Minister’s former IP advisor, as “facilitators” web-hosts and ISPs must step up and take some blame.

      • Court Orders French ISPs to Block The Pirate Bay

        The Paris Court has ordered French ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay. The legal action, brought by anti-piracy group SCPP, resulted in an injunction ordering local service providers to “implement all necessary measures” to render not only the site inaccessible, but also its proxies.

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