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12.31.14

Links 31/12/2014: GNU/Linux in Xiaomi Laptops, Chromebooks Runs GNU/Linux in Browser

Posted in News Roundup at 10:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy Prefers Debian with Xfce – Video

    Linux systems have been spotted in all sorts of interesting places, but they don’t usually make their ways into the movies. Well, from the looks of it, a Linux system has been used in Luc Besson’s Lucy.

  • 2015: If wishes were penguins, everyone would fly

    It’s the end of yet another year. I’m not going to go on record to say that 2015 will finally, finally, finally be the year of Linux! It may, but it may not. What I will go on the record for is to say what my personal Linux and open-source wishes for Linux are in the coming year. They aren’t many, and they aren’t tilting at any given windmill … they just are.

    I’ve already made my “predictions” for Linux in my post “2015 will be the year Linux takes over the enterprise (and other predictions)”. This time, however, I want to take a look at what might be necessary for some of those predictions to actually come true.

  • Desktop Linux and Open Source in 2014: Looking Back

    Clichéd though they may be, year-in-review pieces about desktop Linux—by which I mean Linux distributions designed for end users working on desktops, PCs and, perhaps, large-form mobile devices—are a tradition here at The VAR Guy (and, before that, at our late, great sister-site, WorksWithU, a blog dedicated to Ubuntu Linux). But at the end of 2014, there’s not much to say about desktop Linux other than that it’s now so mature, and open source momentum so focused on other niches, that the Linux desktop has seen little major action over the past 12 months.

  • Purism Librem 15

    While the Librem 15 doesn’t necessarily match my personal tastes for laptop hardware due to the overall size and the mouse in particular, the mission of the company definitely does. Up until this point there were few options for laptops that ran purely Free Software, much less any that had modern hardware and a modern look and feel. I believe Purism genuinely wants to create a quality laptop that will appeal both to the Free Software community as well as privacy advocates and the Librem 15 is a nice start. In this era of pervasive surveillance, rootkits bundled with corporate software, threats of hardware backdoors by nation states, and the overall increasing sophistication of attacks, I think Purism is on to something here. As more people value transparency as a means toward security, a computer that can provide the source code for every driver, application, and firmware it uses becomes more valuable.

  • Xiaomi Said to Launch a Linux Notebook

    Xiaomi is quickly becoming a major player in the tech gadget space. It’s already a huge smartphone maker in China, though has started to spread its wings into other arenas as well. Next up may be a new laptop, at least according to some specs that were recently provided by GizmoChina. As you’ll note from the image above, this looks like a MacBook Air – but don’t let that fool you just yet.

    GizmoChina says that the Xiaomi notebook, powered by Linux, may cost under $500, though the specs suggest it may cost a bit more than that. The site says Xiaomi’s notebook will pack an Intel Core i7 Haswell processor, a 15-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel display and a solid 16GB of RAM. There’s no news on what sort of storage this will pack, though if it’s as thin as the picture suggests, it may have a solid state hard drive as well.

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Docker Reigned in 2014, But Competition is Coming

      Container technology was without a doubt one of the biggest stories of 2014, and if you mention the container arena to most people, Docker is what they think of. As impressive as Docker is, as recently as June of last year, OStatic highlighted some of its instabilities.

  • Kernel Space

    • The Lead Developers Of systemd

      Fedora contributor Tomasz Torcz has taken a fresh look at what individuals and companies are the largest contributors to systemd.

    • Who wrote systemd?

      When it comes to systemd middleware, Lennart Poettering often takes the blame and has sole authorship attributed. But there are many more developers (git shows 593 authors in total) – missing their portion of berating, thus unappreciated and unhappy. Over the Winter Holidays I’ve run LWN’s “who wrote” scripts to gather more insight into systemd’s developer base.

    • Systemd Development Skyrocketed This Year

      Rising above all of the systemd controversies and in-fighting this year, systemd developers remained committed and did a heck of a job at adding code to the project.

      As some complementary development statistics for systemd focused on 2014 to yesterday’s lead developers of systemd article, I ran GitStats this morning on the latest end-of-year systemd mainline Git repository. The numbers speak for themselves and systemd grew significantly this year.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Nouveau vs. NVIDIA GeForce Linux Performance At The End Of 2014

        Testing for this article was done using the same Core i7 4790K Haswell system as used by the other recent Linux graphics tests. Ubuntu 14.10 x86_64 was running on the system with the Unity 7.3.1 desktop and X.Org Server 1.16.0. The open-source Nouveau driver consisted of the Linux 3.18.0 kernel, Mesa 10.5.0-devel, and xf86-video-nouveau DDX Git. The proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver used was the latest NVIDIA 346.22 beta driver release from earlier this month.

      • Intel Haswell Linux OpenGL Driver Catching Up To The Intel Windows Driver

        Past Intel Windows vs. Linux graphics driver benchmarks have shown that for Haswell the OpenGL performance on Linux generally comes up short of the proprietary Windows driver. Fortunately, the Intel open-source Linux driver improved a lot this year and is now more competitive to the Windows driver.

        My latest end-of-year testing was comparing the Intel Linux graphics performance over the past year to Microsoft Windows with the latest proprietary driver (v10.18.10.3960).

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Despite Rumors, Xfce Alive & Kicking

      Rumors: They exist, for better or worse, and there’s not much you can do about them. In addition, rumors are the starting blocks for the old Churchill adage that “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

      Three times this month, Xfce came up in conversation — online, of course, and in the realm of social media and in forum discussions — and the context in which each conversation came up had the desktop on the brink of closure, with one unwitting person saying that Xfce was dead.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Does Using GNOME On Wayland Save Power?

        One of the commonly asked questions is whether using Wayland will be more power efficient or save power compared to running the same software under an X.Org Server environment. Here’s a simple test of GNOME on Wayland in Fedora 21 while monitoring a laptop’s battery use.

        After yesterday’s Fedora 21 Gaming Benchmarks: X.Org vs. XWayland To End 2014 I ran a simple comparison just looking at the system power consumption while engaging with the GNOME 3.14.2 desktop environment under X.Org Server 1.16 and when running under Wayland.

      • GNOME 2014 Highlights

        Early in the spring Karen Sandler announced her departure* as the Executive Director of the foundation.

        The GNOME Asia Summit, an event with a strong community building focus, was this year hosted in Beijing, China. In the end of July the GNOME community gathered for GUADEC in the beautiful city of Strasbourg, France for a week of talks, discussions and hacking.

      • The GNOME Progress & Events That Defined 2014

        The GNOME project had a rather splendid year with significant progress made in porting GNOME’s components to Wayland, adding many features to the GTK+ tool-kit, enabling OpenGL support in GTK+, and improvements to the many GNOME applications.

  • Distributions

    • OpenELEC lightweight Linux adds Kodi 14 support

      Version 5.0 of the RPi-compatible, Kodi/XBMC-oriented OpenELEC Linux distro for media players upgrades to Kodi 14, adds i.MX6 support, and drops AppleTV.

    • OpenELEC 5.0 released
    • New Releases

      • Back-up Your Linux OS with Clonezilla Live

        Clonezilla Live, a Linux distribution based on DRBL, Partclone, and udpcast that allows users to do bare metal backup and recovery, is now at version 2.3.2-2. Users should be able to download it and test it.

      • Chapter 21. Release 14.12 (“Caterpillar”, 2014/12/30)

        In addition to numerous new and upgraded packages, this release has the following highlights:

        Systemd has been updated to version 217, which has numerous improvements.

        Nix has been updated to 1.8.

        NixOS is now based on Glibc 2.20.

        KDE has been updated to 4.14.

        The default Linux kernel has been updated to 3.14.

      • NixOS 14.12 Released To End Out 2014

        NixOS 14.12 stable is codenamed “Caterpillar” and includes Nix 1.8 for package management and a wide collection of package updates. The release announcement by Domen Kožar details, “11972 commits were pushed by 310 contributors since the last release (14.04).”

      • Linux Deepin 2014.2 Makes It Out Just In Time For The New Year

        Deepin Linux with its original desktop environment claims to have been downloaded tens of millions of times and in use in more than 40 countries around the globe. Deepin 2014.2 delivers new themes, drag-and-drop reordering support for the Dock icons, launcher improvements, improved multi-screen support, network improvements, system notification improvements, tablet support, and other updates focused around its HTML5-based desktop.

      • deepin 2014.2正式版发布——自由·独特·前卫
    • Screenshots

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project News – December 29th, 2014

        Debian Project News – December 29th, 2014

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Used to Analyse Data from Famous Comet-Hunting Rosetta Space Probe

            Rosetta is the space probe that was sent to meet the Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet and that carried the Philae lander, which eventually made a touchdown on the comet itself. It looks like the guys who are analyzing the data sent by the probe are also using Ubuntu.

          • Ubuntu operating system worth trying as it wins 3 consecutive awards from W3tech
          • Ubuntu Terminal Reboot Is Probably One of the Coolest Terminals You’ve Seen

            Developers have reinvented the terminal numerous times and there are a ton of various apps out there that do the same thing. Now, an “Ubuntu terminal reboot” has surfaced and it’s glorious.

          • $100 Bay Trail PC-on-a-stick can run Ubuntu (and Windows)

            The MeegoPad T01 is a tiny PC-on-a-stick with an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor, 2GB of RAM, and Windows 8.1 software. It sells for around $100 and up.

            Just plug the stick into the HDMI port of a display, connect a power source, and you’ve got a desktop computer (with the processing power of a cheap Windows tablet).

            But what if you’d rather run Ubuntu? Yep. You can do that.

          • Upstart MJ Technology To Launch ‘Ubuntu Edge’-Like Tablet Early 2015

            Last year, Canonical tried to crowdfund its own smartphone that would run the company’s “Ubuntu Touch” operating system. The smartphone was called “Ubuntu Edge” and would come with a unique design, 4 GB of RAM, a quad-core processor, sapphire screen and 128 GB of storage.

            The campaign ultimately failed, reaching less than half of its ambitious goal of $32 million. Since then, we haven’t actually seen a commercially available device running Ubuntu Touch.

            A new start-up called MJ Technology promises to build a tablet that will look like the Ubuntu Edge smartphone Canonical wanted to build, and it will run Ubuntu.

          • Shuttleworth Explains Why Open Source is More Secure than Closed Source [VIDEO]

            In 2014, open source technology came under a heavy barrage of criticism as a result of high-profile security vulnerabilities. Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu Linux and its lead commercial sponsor Ubuntu, has a very different view and remains a stalwart defender of the open source model for software development and security.

            In a video interview with Datamation, Shuttleworth details his view on open-source security as Ubuntu Linux celebrates its 10th anniversary.

            In 2014, the Heartbleed vulnerability in the open source OpenSSL cryptographic library had wide ranging impact. OpenSSL is widely deployed on servers, VPNs and even mobile devices and it took some time for vendors and users to get systems and devices patched.

            “We have a big responsibility to proactively make sure that the system is as robust in the face of inevitable flaws as it can be,” Shuttleworth said.

          • 12 Months, 12 Highlights: This was Ubuntu in 2014
          • Windows Phone Replaced with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on Lumia 1020

            Windows phone (Lumia 1020) is probably the last place where you would expect to see Ubuntu, but a user has posted images with Ubuntu running on this device and they seem to be legit.

            The first thing that users might think is that someone ported Ubuntu Touch for the Lumia 1020 device and that would not be an impossible task. It would be difficult but not impossible. It would also be a difficult to install a custom ROM, but that’s also not impossible. The interesting thing is that the images show an Ubuntu system running and not the Touch version.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Pear OS Is Making a Comeback – Rumor

              Pear OS was a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that imitated the Mac OS X desktop environment with great accuracy. It disappeared rather mysteriously roughly a year ago, and no one has heard anything of it ever since. Now, an image has been ported on a remote and obscure part of the Internet that shows that Pear OS might be making a comeback.

            • Pear Returning, In the Movies, and More Highlights

              Today in Linux news Softpedia.com is reporting that Pear OS is making signs of a comeback. In other news, Debian is spotted in a new movie and Phil Shapiro shares a cheap laptop story. We have 2014 highlights on Ubuntu, GNOME, and FOSS in general as well as Jack Wallen’s wishes for the new year.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Micro-UAV controller features open, modifiable design

      The AeroCore 2 is an update to the original AeroCore controller introduced last Spring. Like most hacker-oriented UAV autopilots, both AeroCore models run Nuttx RTOS for real-time control tasks, along with Linux for higher level functions.

    • Raspberry Pi: Raspbian and NOOBS releases

      What better way to spend the holidays, and prepare for the New Year, than with a new release of Raspbian (Debian GNU/Linux specifically for the Raspberry Pi), and a new NOOBS package?

      For those who don’t have a Raspberry Pi (or more than one) already, or might have just gotten one for Christmas, the foundation has posted a Got a new Pi article. I also wrote a number of Hands-On with Raspberry Pi posts last Christmas, which include a lot more detail and lots of screen shots.

      The new Raspbian release (2014-12-24) and a new NOOBS package (1.3.11) are available for download in the usual ZIP format on the Raspberry Pi downloads page. The NOOBS image also includes Pidora, Arch Linux, openELEC, RaspBMC and RiscOS.

    • Ringing in 2015 with 40 Linux-friendly hacker SBCs

      2014 brought us plenty of new open-spec, community-backed SBCs — from $35 bargains, to octa-core powerhouses — and all with Linux or Android support.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • UK retailers in TABLET PRICE SLASH BONANZA

        You can buy tablets for under £30, but for just over that (including shipping) you can get a 7” Quad Core device, and Amazon is now chock-a-block with cheap tablets. Even retail outlets, with brand name tablets, will do you a massive discount.

      • The Year Of The Small Cheap Tablet In UK

        The more competitive the market for personal computing, the more innovative will be OEMs and retailers. I expect many more will ship GNU/Linux just to be different or to offer something new. 2015 could be the last year retail shelves exclude GNU/Linux anywhere. The monopoly is truly dead.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Apache Markes Year’s End By Graduating Two Big Data Projects

    As this year draws to a close, it’s worth taking note of two important projects from the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) that have graduated to top-tier project status, ensuring them development resources and more. Apache MetaModel went from the Apache Incubator to become a Top Level Project. It provides a model for interacting with data based on metadata, and developers can use it to go beyond just physical data layers to work with most any forms of data.

    Meanwhile, we’ve also covered the news of Apache Drill graduating to Top Level Project status. Drill is billed as the world’s first schema-free SQL query engine that delivers real-time insights by removing the constraint of building and maintaining schemas before data can be analyzed.

  • 2014’s Five Biggest Stories Affecting FOSS
  • Funding

    • Anonabox Gets Kicked from Kickstarter, Shows Up on Indiegogo with Updated Specs

      The online community tore the project apart and discovered that the makers of Anonabox were disingenuous when they were saying that it was something original, custom built. As it turned out, it was actually a repurposed Chinese device with a slightly better memory. Also, the operating system used was OpenWRT, which is basically Linux distro for routers and other such devices. Most, if not all of the information provided on Kickstarter was a lie. Eventually, the Kickstarter project was suspended and no one got hurt, financially.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Deputy CTO UK: ODF is a ‘big change’

      The UK government’s 400 IT departments are preparing their organisations for the use of the Open Document Format (ODF) as the default for its editable documents. The process should avoid making civil servants and other end-users bear the brunt of the switch, says Magnus Falk, deputy chief technology officer (CTO) of the UK government. “To unlock our digital documents, we’re leading a digital transformation.”

    • Spanish region Galicia publishes training materials for Linux and LibreOffice

      Amtega, Galicia’s agency for technological modernisation, has published its training materials for Linux and LibreOffice under an open license. They can be used by training centres, organisations and individuals to prepare for the office productivity CODIX certification provided by the CeMIT network.

    • 5100+ signatures for open formats in the French educational system

      More than 5100 people have signed the call to promote open formats and interoperability in the French educational system, a campaign initiated in November by April, France’s free software advocacy group. Their call for interoperability in the education system (Appel pour l’intéropérabilité dans l’Education Nationale) is supported by 100 teachers, as well as employees and school trade unions.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Open data partnership between city and county of Durham, NC

        Open data has found the most innovation at the local government level. While not taking away from te efforts of data.gov and the state initiatives, local data has more impact on the day to day lives of civil society. A wealth of city and county public data exists, but accessing it can sometimes be time consuming. Now, thanks to a new local government partnership, open data in Durham is just months away from becoming a reality.

    • Open Hardware

      • Turn on your computer from anywhere with an Arduino Server

        Unless you live off-the-grid and have abundant free electricity, leaving your rig on while you go away on trips is hardly economic. So if you’re like [Josh Forwood] and you happen to use a remote desktop client all the time while on the road, you might be interested in this little hack he threw together. It’s a remote Power-On-PC from anywhere device.

        It’s actually incredibly simple. Just one Arduino. He’s piggybacking off of the excellent Teleduino software by [Nathan] who actually gave him a hand manipulating it for his purpose. The Arduino runs as a low-power server which allows [Josh] to access it via a secure website login. From there, he can send a WOL packet to his various computers to wake them up.

  • Programming

    • PHP Install Statistics

      …over 78% of all PHP installs have at least one known security vulnerability.

    • Performance Analysis With Performance Co-Pilot, iPython and Pandas

      One of many reasons to love Performance Co-Pilot, is the fact that it is a fully fledged framework to do performance analysis. It makes it extremely simple to extend and to build anything on top of it. In this post we shall explore how simple it is to analyze your performance data using iPython and pandas.

    • New Language from MIT Streamlines Building SQL-Backed Web Applications

      There are countless developers and administrators who are creating and deploying online applications backed by SQL databases.

      The problem is that creating and deploying them is not the easiest nut to crack due to the complexity of marrying HTML, JavaScript and other tools and components.

      That’s exactly the problem that Adam Chlipala, an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, is trying to solve with Ur/Web, a domain-specific functional programming language for modern Web applications. The language encapsulates many key components needed for robust applications into just one language, and can help ensure the security of the applications.

Leftovers

  • Fury as AirAsia families shown live footage of floating bodies being recovered from missing plane

    Media stations have been criticised for showing split-screen footage of distraught families as they were watched live footage of bodies from missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 being recovered from the water.

    TV One, an Indonesian news channel, screened images from rescue crews as they encountered the debris and bodies found earlier today in the Java Sea, off the coast on Borneo, on a split screen interposed with live reaction from the families of passengers.

  • London New Year’s Eve fireworks made ticket-only for first time

    Metropolitan police urge everyone not among 100,000 who paid for reservation to stay at home and watch on TV

  • Security

    • Is SSH Insecure?

      Fact is, we don’t yet know enough details about all possible attack surfaces against SSH available to the agencies and we badly need more information to know what infrastructure components remain save and reliable for our day to day work. However we do have an idea about the weak spots that should be avoided.

    • More Data on Attributing the Sony Attack

      This is nonsense. North Korea has had extensive offensive cyber capabilities for years. And it has extensive support from China.

      Even so, lots of security experts don’t believe that it’s North Korea.

    • Lizard Squad in the FBI blizzard

      This crew is taking credit for the Sony and Xbox hack and the Feds are already taking the low-hanging fruit. It is not really a surprise that these hacks are so prolific most hacker crews want to get their name out there but to do so means, well that it is out there.

      Colour me surprised that a member of the Lizard Squad hacking group, whos handle alias is “ryanc” aka Ryan caught the attention of the FBI aka Federal Bureau of Investigation after speaking with the media about the Christmas-day attacks on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network (PSN).

    • New evidence Sony hack was ‘inside’ job, not North Korea

      US cybersecurity experts say they have solid evidence that a former employee helped hack Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer system — and that it was not masterminded by North Korean cyberterrorists.

      One leading cybersecurity firm, Norse Corp., said Monday it has narrowed its list of suspects to a group of six people — including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, according to reports.

      The investigation of the Sony hacking by the private companies stands in stark contrast to the finding of the FBI, which said Dec. 19 its probe traced the hacking — which ended up foiling the planned wide release of the Hollywood studio’s “The Interview” — to North Korea.

      Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse, said he used Sony’s leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors to determine it was not North Korea behind the hack.

    • Who Was Behind the Cyberattack on Sony?

      The cyberattack on Sony Pictures unleashed a torrent of alarmist media reports, evoking the image of North Korean perfidy. Within a month, the FBI issued a statement declaring the North Korean government “responsible for these actions.” Amid the media frenzy, several senators and congresspersons called for tough action. Arizona Senator John McCain blustered, “It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in, and we need to react and react vigorously.” President Barack Obama announced his administration planned to review the possibility of placing North Korea on the list of states sponsoring terrorism, a move that would further tighten the already harsh sanctions on North Korea. “They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” Obama warned darkly. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

    • Top 10 Security Incidents and Vulnerabilities of 2014

      This past year has been one of the busiest ones on record for IT security professionals, with a seemingly endless stream of high-profile exploits and software vulnerabilities. At the end of 2013, Target revealed what turned out to be the first of many retail breaches over the next 12 months. Retailers large and small were in the news over the course of 2014, with breaches at Home Depot, Staples, Dairy Queen and even the nonprofit Goodwill Industries. Retailers weren’t the only ones under attack in 2014, however; the open-source software development movement was under scrutiny due to several high-profile security incidents. The OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability that was first disclosed in April had a wide-reaching impact and consequences that took months to unravel. Heartbleed also ushered in a new era of naming and branding vulnerabilities that extended throughout 2014. The Shellshock bug in the open-source BASH shell was another high-impact vulnerability disclosed in 2014 that left IT professionals scrambling. Not all high-impact flaws were the cause of panic though. The open-source Xen hypervisor that powers much of the world’s public cloud infrastructure was patched before any public exploits emerged. In this slide show, eWEEK takes a look back at the top 10 security incidents and vulnerabilities of 2014.

    • Low-risk ‘worm’ removed at hacked South Korea nuclear operator

      South Korean authorities have found evidence that a low-risk computer “worm” had been removed from devices connected to some nuclear plant control systems, but no harmful virus was found in reactor controls threatened by a hacker.

      Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd said it would beef up cyber security by hiring more IT security experts and forming an oversight committee, as it came in for fresh criticism from lawmakers following recent hacks against its headquarters.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Obama’s Lists: A Dubious History of Targeted Killings in Afghanistan

      Combat operations in Afghanistan may be coming to an end, but a look at secret NATO documents reveals that the US and the UK were far less scrupulous in choosing targets for killing than previously believed. Drug dealers were also on the lists.

    • Afghanistan’s New Millionaires

      “Do you want to listen to Taliban cassette?” Matiullah Matie asks as he steers his white Toyota Corolla along a narrow road surrounded by cornfields and mud huts. He keeps the tapes in the car for long drives, Matie explains, just in case he picks up a hitchhiker who looks like a Talib. “They think I am such a pious mujahid man,” the round, bearded businessman laughs. “They don’t know I am screwing them all.”

    • Boy, 2, Accidentally Shoots and Kills Mom at Idaho Walmart
  • Transparency Reporting

    • WikiLeaks Says Iceland’s Gov’t Unlikely to Push Information Freedom Reform

      WikiLeaks spokesperson said that Iceland’s initiative to become the Switzerland of Bits is unlikely to move an inch further under the country’s current conservative government.

    • Intelligence, defense whistleblowers remain mired in broken system

      When Ilana Greenstein blew the whistle on mismanagement at the CIA, she tried to follow all the proper procedures.

      First, she told her supervisors that she believed the agency had bungled its spying operations in Baghdad. Then, she wrote a letter to the director of the agency.

      But the reaction from the intelligence agency she trusted was to suspend her clearance and order her to turn over her personal computers. The CIA then tried to get the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of her.

      Meanwhile, the agency’s inspector general, which is supposed to investigate whistleblower retaliation, never responded to her complaint about the treatment.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The 11 Dumbest Things Conservative Media Said About Climate Change in 2014

      This year saw landmark reports on climate change, detailing the ever-increasing scientific certainty that human activities are driving catastrophic climate change and that action needs to be taken to prevent the worst effects. Yet despite the fact that more Americans than ever support action on climate change, conservative media went to ridiculous lengths to cast doubt on the scientific consensus behind global warming, citing everything from free market economics to witchcraft, touting conspiracy theories and predictions of an “ice age,” and even fulfilling Godwin’s law.

  • Finance

    • Despite a Tumultuous 2014, Bitcoin Still Has Value

      Bitcoin had a difficult year in which its value declined by two-thirds, but there is still much reason for optimism in 2015.

    • Why China is about to give Silicon Valley serious competition

      Here’s a news story you probably didn’t see: “Creative enterprises hub to be established in Qianhai.” You didn’t see it because it ran in the Shenzhen Standard, an English-language newspaper in China’s Guangdong province, slightly north of Hong Kong. The local government is investing $750 million to build a giant hub for design and other creative enterprises.

  • Censorship

    • India blocks 32 websites, including GitHub, Internet Archive, Pastebin, Vimeo

      Internet users in India are starting to lose to access websites including GitHub, Internet Archive, Pastebin, and Vimeo under an order from India’s DoT (Department of Telecom).

      It appears an order to block the sites issued on December 17 is taking effect — albeit unevenly.

      Today, Centre for Internet and Society (Bangalore, India) Policy Director Pranesh Prakash posted a copy of the notice listing the 32 blocked URLs.

    • Indian Government Orders 32 Web Sites Blocked, Including GitHub, Archive.Org, Pastebin, DailyMotion And Vimeo

      It’s not clear why these sites have been blocked in this way, but Prakash, who is Policy Director at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, India, believes it may be because of a court order in a copyright case. He also points out that this is not the first time this has happened. However, the key nature of many of the sites affected, and the fact that entire sites, rather than just some of their pages, were blocked, is bound to lead to calls for this blunt instrument to be refined before it is used again.

    • Government blocks over 60 websites including github & sourceforge on anti-terror advisory

      Over 60 websites and links, including popular online tools like Github and Sourceforge used by thousands of programmers have been blocked in India, triggering angry protests by Internet users.

  • Privacy

    • arc4random vs timing attacks

      Here at 31C3, Sebastian Schinzel just gave a presentation based on Revisiting SSL/TLS Implementations: New Bleichenbacher Side Channels and Attacks. The particular attack that caught my eye was the failure to generate a fake PMS before checking for bad padding, not after. Doing it afterwards exposes a timing difference of up to a few microseconds which can be measured over the network.

    • How The NSA Works Hard To Break Encryption Any Way It Can

      And, sure, it is a “threat” to the way in which the NSA snoops on everything, but for the vast majority of users, it’s a way to protect their privacy from snooping eyes. The report does reveal that certain encryption standards appear to still cause problems for the NSA, including PGP (which you already use for email, right?), OTR (used in some secure chat systems) and VoIP cryptography system ZRTP. Phil Zimmermann, who helped develop both PGP and ZRTP should be pretty damn proud of his achievements here.

    • When The FISA Court Rejects A Surveillance Request, The FBI Just Issues A National Security Letter Instead

      We’ve talked quite a bit about National Security Letters (NSLs) and how the FBI/DOJ regularly abused them to get just about any information the government wanted with no oversight. As a form of an administrative subpoena — with a built in gag-order — NSLs are a great tool for the government to abuse the 4th Amendment. Recipients can’t talk about them, and no court has to review/approve them. Yet they certainly look scary to most recipients who don’t dare fight an NSL. That’s part of the reason why at least one court found them unconstitutional.

      At the same time, we’ve also been talking plenty about Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which allows the DOJ/FBI (often working for the NSA) to go to the FISA Court and get rubberstamped court orders demanding certain “business records.” As Ed Snowden revealed, these records requests can be as broad as basically “all details on all calls.” But, since the FISA Court reviewed it, people insist it’s legal. And, of course, the FISA Court has the reputation as a rubberstamp for a reason — it almost never turns down a request.

    • E-mail is too important to die, workers say

      THERE is no shortage of tech companies trying to replace e-mail in the workplace by offering new collaboration tools.

      Workers, though, just want their e-mail.

      In a new survey, 61% of US adult workers who use the internet ranked e-mail as “very important” for doing their jobs, according to Pew Research Center.

    • NSA: Tell no-one [31c3] by James Bamford
  • Civil Rights

    • Russians Are Organizing Against Putin Using FireChat Messaging App

      Anti-government protesters in Russia followed along on Twitter as opposition leader Alexey Navalny live-tweeted his house-arrest violation today. But the real action was on FireChat, where Navalny and his supporters organized protests and exchanged unfiltered communication.

    • CPS Threatens Dad: Let Your Kids Play Outside and We’ll Take Them Away

      I received an update from the Maryland mom of two who was contacted by Montgomery Country Child Welfare Service in November after she let her kids, ages 6 and 10, play at the park two blocks from home by themselves. She was cited for allowing a child under age 8 “to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent.”

      The CPS worker decided “confined in a dwelling” was the same thing as “outside in a park.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Yet Another Horrible Comcast Customer Service Experience Goes Viral

      Comcast’s customer service troubles are well documented, with bad customer service experiences going viral every few months, requiring Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to trot out of his corner office to promise to do better. Just a few months ago, Comcast also excitedly hired a new “Senior VP of Customer Experience,” named Neil Smit Charlie Herrin. I hope Herrin wasn’t taking an extended vacation for the holidays, because just in time for New Year’s, yet another horrific customer experience situation has gone viral via Reddit.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Correcting copywrongs [31c3]
      • How Copyright Makes Culture Disappear

        A few years ago, we wrote about some research by Paul Heald that did an astounding job visually demonstrating how much copyright law today harms the dissemination of content.

      • Is piracy really just an access and convenience problem?

        I agree partly with what Fung said in his column. He’s absolutely right about convenience and access being big problems for consumers.

        [...]

        I’ll give you a good example of this. For the longest time the popular hard rock band AC/DC refused to put its music up on iTunes and other digital outlets. The band members and their management retained a 1980s mind-set and wanted people to go to Walmart to buy CDs. Talk about being trapped in the past!

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