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03.13.15

Links 13/2/2015: Chromebook Reviews, Age Of Wonders III Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 8:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Vaio vies with old friend Sony by launching an Android smartphone

    Shortly after ejecting from Sony, the folks at Vaio are going up against their former company with a smartphone to compete with the Sony Xperia line.

    The Vaio name will no doubt be familiar as the brand name of Sony’s laptops. But as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures, Sony spun off the laptop division last year. The new company kept the Vaio name and logo for its first couple of laptops and has now slapped the logo on the back of a mid-range phone.

  • Desktop

    • Hands on: Google’s new $999 Chromebook Pixel makes big changes under the hood

      Two years is eons in tech time, and that’s how long we’ve had to wait for a new Chromebook Pixel, which Google announced Wednesday. Yes, this is a new version of the super-premium, high-priced flagship that debuted to oohs, ahhs, and whys in early 2013, when most Chromebooks were little cheap plastic things, and desktop applications dominated. Not everyone saw the potential of a high-priced browser box.

    • Review: New Chromebook Pixel is still lovely hardware with limited appeal

      Chromebooks are cheap. They work best that way. It’s rare to find one north of $400, and the sweet spot is between $200 and $300. While they’ve got shortcomings, the cost is reasonable for what you get. In some cases, the limitations are even desirable.

      Only one Chromebook has truly gone against that grain—the Chromebook Pixel. It was the polar opposite of every other device bearing the name. The Pixel was high-quality hardware where others are low-rent, but even though it cost five times what you could pay for a regular Chromebook it didn’t really do much more. It’s a laptop as nice as it is niche.

    • 7 Neat Linux Tricks That Newbies Need to Know

      As a Linux newbie, it’s normal to struggle. Everything just feels so different from Windows and you find yourself scratching your head at the simplest of tasks. And while the command line makes Linux life much easier, it can be intimidating for a beginner.

      Fortunately, all it takes is a few simple tricks to get you comfortable within the terminal. Give it a few days and you may actually end up preferring the command line! Granted, there is a learning curve, but it’s not as hard as you think. I promise.

      If you’ve never used the command line before, I’d recommend that you first get acquainted with terminal before continuing. But if you’re feeling confident, feel free to keep reading anyway.

  • Server

    • GNU/Linux And The Bottom Line

      Since Amazon revitalized itself, in part by dropping that other OS, it’s gone on to be one of the most successful retail, virtualization and cloud infrastructure businesses around, all thanks to GNU/Linux.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Lightweight Desktop For Linux: What’s the Best One for You?

      When it comes to Linux, it seems like most people talk about the desktop environments with the most eye candy. While those desktops are great in their own way, they’re not for everyone. Not everyone is looking for something graphically intensive and pretty.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasmoid Tutorial 3 – Blending In

        We want to have consistent visual style amongst plasmoids that follows the user’s themes, along with consistent spacing throughout the shell. We want all “third party” plasmoids to follow these rules too.

      • Plasma 5.3 wallpaper contest

        Nuno (not Hugo) made the plasma 5.1 wallpaper and kver the wallpaper for plasma 5.2. The wallpapers are great and a good standard setting but in the past there are more than one wallpaper available in plasma. In the kde-wallpapers-4.8.x package there are Air, Ariya, Autumn, Azul, Blue Wood, Castilla Sky, Finally Summer in Germany, Flying Field, Fog on the West Lake, Fresh Moring, Grass, Hanami, Horos and Media Life.

      • 7 Leading Applications for KDE Plasma

        For the last three years, KDE Plasma has been the most widely used desktop on both the LinuxQuestions and Linux Journal polls. Part of this popularity is due to the innovations in the desktop itself, but an equally important part is the ecosystem of applications that depend on it.

        KDE Plasma applications are like no others on the desktop — and not simply because of the tradition that they must include a “K” in the name.

        Where GNOME desktop applications are carefully minimalistic, engineered to include only the most common features, KDE applications are crammed with every feature imaginable, and endlessly customizable. At times, KDE Plasma applications suffer from organizational problems because of their all-inclusivity. Yet at their best, many are among the killer apps of the Linux desktop.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • That’s a wrap

        Similar to many others, I had tried to find an appropriate place to begin contributing to FOSS before starting the OPW program. I still have a myriad of bookmarked posts and websites all devoted to getting involved in open source. It’s pervasive nature as a topic suggests that most people encounter similar barriers when trying to find a good starting point. Fortunately once you gain some momentum, it is so much easier to conserve or transfer that energy to a parallel aspect of a current project or to a completely new undertaking. This, perhaps, is the broader implication of my experience. I now have that momentum. I would like to give a big thank you to Tobias and Marina for answering all of my questions and fostering a supportive environment. I would also like to thank the GNOME community for making OPW possible.

      • OPW Retrospective

        Three months later, I’m done with my OPW internship with GNOME Music.

      • Development: GNOME 3.15.92 rc tarballs due (and more)

        We would like to inform you about the following:
        * GNOME 3.15.92 rc tarballs due
        * Hard Code Freeze

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Rugged, wireless-enabled COM runs Linux on AM437x

      CompuLab’s rugged, SODIMM-style “CM-T43″ COM runs Linux or Android on a TI AM437x, and offers up to 1GB RAM, 32GB flash, dual GbE, WiFi, BLE, NFC, and more.

    • Automotive bus open sourced with Linux-based design

      A German university is open sourcing a secure, two-tier Automotive Service Bus for car computers, available on a control unit running Linux on a PandaBoard.

      Technische Universität München (TUM) has open-sourced an automotive computer bus design developed as part of its “Visio.M” (Visionary Mobility) electric car project, according a Mar. 10 press release by TUM. Next week at the CeBIT show in Hanover, Germany, TUM will demonstrate the carbon fiber Visio.M prototype, which was backed by the German government with 7.1 million Euros, as well as the car’s newly open “Automotive Service Bus.”

    • Hybrid Embedded Computing? Intel Eyes New Niche With $89 Linux Compute Stick

      There’s plenty of talk these days about embedded Linux devices. But what if your device doesn’t have the open source OS already embedded, and you still want to use it to run apps? Intel (INTC) is catering to exactly that market—among other niches—with its Compute Stick, a USB device capable of booting TVs and other hardware that will sell for as low $89.

    • Cuberox – The Six-Faced Linux Powered Computer Is The Next Cool Gadget To Watch

      Gone are the days when computers would mean a flat screen monitor and a keyboard and a mouse. In this era of wearables, we are witnessing computers in every shape and form imaginable. Well, three passionate engineers Dmitriy Popov, Ilia Lisunov and Viacheslav Kim have come together to develop a computer in a cube. Called ‘Cuberox’, the team has developed a Linux OS powered computer that resides inside a cube shaped box that has displays on all of its six sides. As you can see from the image below, Cuberox has 16 x 16 pixel displays on each side which can show the information of the app you are running on it.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • How the new Wi-Fi, Bluetooth quick toggles work in Android 5.1

          Once your device receives the latest and greatest version of Android, you’ll want to know how to use these shortcuts.

        • Samsung Galaxy Note Series Android 5.0 Lollipop Release Update: Galaxy Note 4, Note 3, Note 2, Note Edge

          The Android 5.0 Lollipop update for the Galaxy Note series has made significant strides in the U.S. and beyond, with American carriers releasing updates for both the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note 3.

        • Nexus 6 Android 5.1 Update Impressions & Performance

          Earlier this week Google officially announced the highly anticipated and much needed Android 5.1 Lollipop update for many key Nexus smartphones and tablets. For now it’s rolling out to the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, with the 2013 Nexus 7 and more devices set to receive the latest software in the coming days. Here we’re taking a lot at how well Android 5.1 runs on the Nexus 6.

        • Google offers developers a sample Android app that works across phones, tablets, smartwatches, cars, and more

          Google today released a new sample app called Universal Music Player that works on smartphones, tablets, Android Auto, Android Wear, and Google Cast devices. The word “sample” is key here: This is a reference design for developers so they can learn how to implement a service that works across multiple form factors.

        • Nexus Android 5.1 Lollipop Release: 10 Things to Expect

          Earlier this week, Google announced an Android 5.1 Lollipop update for Nexus smartphones and tablets. Google’s Nexus Android 5.1 Lollipop release is now underway and we want to take a look at a few things we expect from Google and its brand new Lollipop update for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Nexus 4, and more.

        • Tablet Wars Redux: Nexus 9 vs. iPad Air 2

          The tablet computer market, despite being dominated by the iPad, is in a constant state of agitation. With Amazon, Samsung, and Google coming out with their own line of tablets, the war for the bigger devices gets more and more intense every year. 2014, though was another one of those Apple vs. Google fights where both parties came out with the best line of products.

        • Run Android 5.0.2 Lollipop on Your PC with AndEX Live CD

          Arne Exton had the pleasure of informing Softpedia about its brand-new Android-based Live CD operating system that allows anyone to run the latest Android 5.0.2 “Lollipop” mobile operating system on desktop or laptop computers. The distribution uses Arne’s special Linux kernel 3.10.58-exton-android-x86+, which includes support for the NTFS file system, as well as some extra drivers.

Free Software/Open Source

  • ownCloud gets new release cycle

    ownCloud is a popular private cloud option within the FOSS community, now they’ve announced a series of changes that will affect enterprise and home users quite drastically. These changes include: a faster release cycle, new enterprise support options and a smaller download and installation footprint.

  • Open Source Crypto is Hard: Part 7846

    Our GnuPG strategy and code isn’t ready. We need to either make all that crypto stuff completely seamless, or improve the tools we expose to the user for manual work. Preferably both.

  • The Seven Habits Of Open Source

    Perhaps as recently as a decade ago, open source was still held in a sort of social exile. The sole preserve of server room technology and serious code geeks who knew how to tinker around inside the guts of the operating system, open source software was obviously quite powerful but didn’t seem to come with much of the touchy-feely user interface gloss that we had all gotten so used to.

  • Firing community members

    Things changed. We were starting to see more non-technical people joining, and when I started at Canonical as the Ubuntu community manager, I set my core goal to make Ubuntu a community in which anyone could participate. Others did the same, and the open source world started diversifying in skills. We started seeing designers, artists, advocates, translators, writers, marketeers, and more joining up.

  • Events

    • HGST gets closer to shipping 10TB HDD

      At the Linux Foundation Vault tradeshow in Boston, for Linux and open-source storage developers, the several hundred attendees got a glimpse of the future with a peek at HGST’s 10TB hard disk drives (HDD).

    • Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) 2015 March 23rd to 25th

      The Linux Foundation is sponsoring the Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) 2015 on March 23 – 25 at the San Jose Marriott in San Jose, California. The ELC is a vendor-neutral technical conference for companies and developers using Linux in embedded products. This year’s event will expand to include tracks on Automotive Linux, IoT and Drones.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • List Of Free And Open Source CMS (Content Management System) Solutions

      Building websites by hand with all html/css pages was fine a couple years ago. Today any one can deploy a website without any knowledge of computers. The content management system (CMS) software make your life easy. A CMS facilitates content creation, content control, editing, and many essential Web maintenance functions.

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD 5.7

      This is a partial list of new features and systems included in OpenBSD 5.7. For a comprehensive list, see the changelog leading to 5.7.

    • The OpenBSD Foundation Ideas List – GSOC 2015

      The OpenBSD Foundation is gathering projects to apply as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code 2015.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • LibrePlanet free software conference coming to MIT March 21-22

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and MIT’s Student Information Processing Board (SIPB) are once again teaming up to bring the LibrePlanet free software conference to Cambridge, March 21-22, 2015 at the Stata Center at MIT. LibrePlanet is an annual conference for people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and face challenges facing the free software movement. LibrePlanet 2015 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels.

    • The new and improved my.fsf.org

      The new look of the site marks the completion of migration from a legacy system to CiviCRM, an actively maintained constituent relationship management system, which we run on top of Drupal. This launch was a team project. The improved look and feel of the membership system was aided by the effort of former outreach and communications coordinator William Theaker, whose knowledge of CiviCRM proved invaluable during development. System administrators Lisa Maginnis and Stephen Mahood have done lots of hard work to update and improve our hardware and system architecture to handle the traffic we’ve been receiving.

    • GNU wget 1.16.3 released
    • Denemo 1.2.2 is released
    • IceCat 31.5.0 release

      GNUzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and GNU IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free software. While the Firefox source code from the Mozilla project is free software, they distribute and recommend non-free software as plug-ins and addons. Also their trademark license restricts distribution in several ways incompatible with freedom 0.

  • Public Services/Government

    • French FOI authority: make tax source code public

      The source code for France’s income tax software should be made publicly accessible, says the country’s Freedom Of Information authority, the Commission d’accès aux documents administratifs (CADA). Source code for governmental applications is administrative information which should be made publicly available, CADA writes.

    • National Operational Plan aims to modernise Italian government

      Last month, the European Commission approved the Italian National Operational Plan (NOP) “Governance and Institutional Capacity 2014-2020″. According to Innovators PA, the “Network for Innovation in the Italian Public Administration” funded by the Department of Public Administration, the principles and instruments of the new plan are based on open government. Transparency, open data, participation, citizen engagement, risk management, preventing and combating corruption, and whistle-blowing (specifically in public procurement) are the main themes.

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Cologne wants to extend eParticipation with Community Reporters

      The city of Cologne has developed a strong eParticipation policy to better involve citizens in local decision making. This concept is part of a larger plan aimed at making Cologne an Internet city. Its goal is to “further develop Cologne as a national and international location for internet technology and infrastructure”, the city said.

      [...]

      Illustrating this principle, Cologne is also testing the Community Reporter concept. This is aimed at democratising how citizens express their opinion through others channels such as video, audio or photos. This new approach is aimed at appealing to various citizen groups that are not involved in traditional eParticipation procedures, the city said. Young people may be targeted, for example. Community reporters are trained by a local adult education centre and other partners.

    • Open Data

      • Open source offline map tool for Android

        To realize the full potential of location-based smartphone apps, they should be built to support offline mode and original map graphics. Creating a custom offline map is the best choice. We were faced with this challenge as well, and the solution we came up with was creating a separate library for this purpose. That is how I developed the m​AppWidget code library.​

        We recently decided to open source it, and now mAppWidget is available to anyone in need of a mobile custom offline map solution.

      • OGP: Denmark updates its National Plan to include Open Data

        Denmark has included Open Data in its Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan and extended it to 1 July 2016. The country has also committed to promoting Open Government practices and to helping Myanmar to implement OGP practices throughout the country.

      • Exploring the Open Data Barometer

        A global movement to make government “open by default” picked up steam in 2013 when the G8 leaders signed an Open Data Charter – promising to make public sector data openly available, without charge and in re-useable formats. In 2014 the G20 largest industrial economies followed up by pledging to advance open data as a tool against corruption, and the UN recognised the need for a “Data Revolution” to achieve global development goals.

  • Programming

    • How GitHub Conquered Google, Microsoft, and Everyone Else

      This was a decade ago, before the idea of open source software flipped the tech world upside-down. The open source Linux operating system was already running an enormous number of machines on Wall Street and beyond, proving you can generate big value—and big money—by freely sharing software code with the world at large. But the open source community was still relatively small. When coders started new open source projects, they typically did so on a rather geeky and sometimes unreliable internet site called SourceForge.

Leftovers

  • The iRevolution That Wasn’t. Why Apple Watch will be rare iFlop more like Newton and Lisa than iPhone, iPad and the Macintosh

    So it was now time to see Apple’s latest attempt at iRevolution. Exactly what is the Apple Watch and what can it do? What we saw instead was an iDud. Yes the iChoir was still in an iTrance but the real world already woke up during the presentation that wait, there is nothing more? This is the same stuff we saw last September? Where is the iMagic? Where is the iRevolution. So now that we know, its time to do the autopsy of what went wrong with Tim Cook’s first new iToy released after Steve Jobs had died.

  • Science

    • This Congressman Doesn’t Want a Federal Science Board to Be Allowed to Consider Science

      Last year, the House of Representatives passed two absurd anti-science bills, the Secret Science Reform Act and the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act. It will come as no surprise that both bills, under the guise of “reform,” would have the practical effect of crippling the EPA’s efforts to assess science in a fair and timely way. I don’t have the heart to get into it — follow the links above for the details.

      The bills are back; the House considered them both again yesterday. Emily Atkin has the gory details if you’re interested. They might get a little further this time—the Democratic Senate didn’t take them up last year, obviously, but the GOP-controlled Senate might this year—though it won’t matter in the end, as Obama has threatened to veto both. So it’s mainly yet another act of reactionary symbolism from the right.

      All that is by way of background so I can draw your attention to a hilarious amendment attached to the Science Advisory Board bill. It comes by way of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), a far-right, coal-country, climate-denying conservative of the old school.

    • American Millennials among the world’s least skilled people, says study

      Though the youngest Americans seem to be the most tech-savvy generation in history, their skill sets might not match up to the par set by their international peers.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • NTP’s Fate Hinges On ‘Father Time’

      In April, one of the open source code movement’s first and biggest success stories, the Network Time Protocol, will reach a decision point. At 30 years old, will NTP continue as the preeminent time synchronization system for Macs, Windows, and Linux computers and most servers on networks?

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • Thursday’s security updates
    • Stop using RC4

      In other news, WebKitGTK+ 2.8 has full support for RFC 7465. That’s a fancy way of saying that we will no longer negotiate RC4 connections and you will now be unable to access the small minority of HTTPS sites that offer nothing but RC4. Hopefully other browsers will follow along sooner rather than later. In particular, Firefox nightly has stopped negotiating RC4 except for a few whitelisted sites: I would very much like to see that whitelist removed. Internet Explorer has stopped negotiating RC4 except when it performs voluntary protocol version fallback. It would be great to see a firmer stance from Mozilla and Microsoft, and some action from Google and Apple.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Transparency Reporting

    • State Dept. Employees Only Retained .01 Percent Of Emails As FOIA-Able ‘Official Records’

      With uncanny timeliness, the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General has released a report on the State Department’s email retention — or lack thereof. Not covered in the report is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email retention — or lack thereof. High-ranking State Department officials use a different email system (when not using personal accounts) that isn’t covered in this report.

    • Everything We Know About Hillary Clinton’s Email

      The New York Times reported Monday that the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate had exclusively used a private email account for her government business during her tenure as Secretary of State, rather than a government email account. And an Associated Press report Wednesday said Clinton used her own email servers, rather than a third-party provider like Gmail or Yahoo Mail. That’s raised questions about whether Clinton was making a deliberate attempt to prevent her messages from being disclosed by open records requests or subpoenas.

    • How to Email Like Hillary Clinton

      Many people have at least two email addresses: There’s the one you get for work, then there’s the one you use for personal business. And you might even have one to give all the companies who will send you junk mail until the world ends.

    • Julian Assange set to be questioned by Swedish prosecutors in London

      Swedish prosecutors are expected to question Julian Assange in his London refuge after the lead prosecutor bowed to pressure from his lawyers, Swedish legal opinion and the courts to attempt to break the deadlock in the case.

      Marianne Ny, who heads the investigation into accusations of rape and sexual molestation against the WikiLeaks founder, on Friday lodged a request with Assange’s lawyers to interrogate him in London and take a DNA sample – the first sign of movement in the case that has been deadlocked for nearly three years.

      The prosecutor will ask the UK government and Ecuador for permission to carry out an interrogation at Ecuador’s embassy in London, where Assange has been staying since August 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, from which he fears being handed over to the US to face espionage charges.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • NY Times Fails To Disclose Oil Funding Behind Pro-Oil Op-Ed

      In a March 10 New York Times op-ed, Robert Bryce falsely characterized the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as an expensive “tax.” The standard, which requires oil refiners, blenders, and gasoline and diesel importers to blend a set amount of renewable fuel into their gasoline supply, was dismissed by Bryce as a “boondoggle” and a “rip-off.”

      But the Times failed to disclose Bryce’s financial incentive to attack the RFS, identifying him only as a “senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of a new report from the institute, ‘The Hidden Corn-Ethanol Tax.’” The Manhattan Institute has, in fact, received millions from oil interests over the years, including $635,000 from ExxonMobil and $1.9 million from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, where Charles Koch and his wife sit on the board of directors. Koch made his fortune from oil and currently has significant holdings in oil and gas operations.

  • Finance

    • Fox Figures Falsely Dub New Obama Student Aid Plan A “Bailout”

      Fox figures falsely labeled President Obama’s new plan to protect student borrowers a “bailout,” ignoring the realities of the plan as well as the student debt crisis that necessitated his executive action.

    • Yes, Wall Street Journal, It’s Possible to Be Not Generous Enough

      The Social Security Administration (SSA) analyzed the approval patterns of 12 low-allowance judges over the period from 2010-2013. It found their approval rate increased from 21 to 24 percent over this four-year period. During this period, the overall approval rate had fallen from 67 to 56 percent, implying gaps of between 32 percentage points and 56 percentage points. Note that the gaps between the overall approval rate and the approval rate of the low-allowance judges is considerably larger than the gap between overall approval rate and the approval rate of the high-allowance judges highlighted in the Wall Street Journal column.

    • California Proposes Bill To Ban All Unlicensed Bitcoin Businesses, Without Even Defining What That Means

      California, the state that prides itself as the birthplace of modern technology and whose policies such as the unenforceability of non-competes contributed substantially to the innovation ecosystem, recently proposed a law that requires innovators to get permission from the state, or be banned.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • WaPo, Owned by CIA’s Webmaster, Blasts Venezuela’s ‘State-Financed’ News

      Venezuelans are worried because US President Barack Obama declared a “national emergency” that called Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

      [...]

      Ah–the administration is just pretending there’s an “unusual and extraordinary threat” because it wants to invoke powers that it’s only legally allowed to use in an actual emergency. No biggie. Thanks for clearing that up, Washington Post!

      Unfortunately, Venezuelans don’t have Washington-savvy publications like the Post to set them straight.

    • CNN on the Frontiers of the Commercialization of News

      But faced with falling ad revenues, Time Warner is seeing opportunities to sell ads during programs that are “not so tied to breaking news.” That’s why on its New Day morning show, “a logo for General Mills’ Fiber One cereal shows up during weather reports.”

    • Covering Commercialization: A Conversation
    • Full Koch Press for ALEC Right-to-Work Bill in Wisconsin

      Wisconsin is governed by the 43 ALEC members who make up the leadership and GOP majority of both houses. Governor Scott Walker is an ALEC alumnus who signed 19 ALEC bills into office in his first year as governor.

    • Surprise! ALEC Scholar Says ALEC Right to Work Will Boost WI Economy

      Stop the presses! An American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “scholar,” Richard Vedder, says that Wisconsin’s proposed right-to-work law–which is lifted word-for-word from ALEC model legislation–will be great for Wisconsin.

    • According to Scott Walker, This Is What a Terrorist Looks Like

      One of the most remarkable things about the 2011 Wisconsin uprising was how a protest so massive and so sustained managed to be entirely peaceful. Thousands of people occupied the capital building, around the clock, for two weeks straight, without incident. For months, as many as 100,000 people at a time marched around the statehouse, and exercised their right to free speech and assembly–without arrests or violence.

  • Censorship

    • Google Keeps Rejecting Hollywood’s Broad Takedown Requests

      It’s no secret that Google and Hollywood have different views on the responsibilities of search engines. This is resulting in an interesting standoff where Google keeps rejecting requests to remove pirate sites from its search results. The MPAA apparently even tried to take down its own website as a test, but failed to do so.

    • MySpace – what went wrong: ‘The site was a massive spaghetti-ball mess’

      In 2015, Sean Percival is a partner at Silicon Valley seed accelerator 500 Startups, but from 2009 to 2011, he was working at MySpace as its vice president of online marketing – just as the social network lost its crown to Facebook.

      In a speech at the By:Larm conference in Oslo this week, Percival gave an insider’s view of what went wrong at MySpace, from the “massive spaghetti-ball mess” of its website and the “politics, greed” of parent company News Corporation to a doomed attempt to acquire music streaming service Spotify.

      His talk was aimed at startups looking to learn the lessons from MySpace’s decline, but it seemed as relevant for the largest internet companies today, such as Facebook, as they seek to avoid a similar fate.

    • WordPress Wins $25,000 From DMCA Takedown Abuser

      WordPress has scored an important victory in court against a man who abused the DMCA to censor an article of a critical journalist. The court agreed that the takedown request was illegitimate and awarded WordPress roughly $25,000 in damages and attorneys fees.

    • ISP Categorically Refuses to Block Pirate Bay – Trial Set For October

      Following a hearing last month during which agreement was sought between entertainment companies and Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget, the provider has confirmed there will be no compromise. The ISP will not block The Pirate Bay and insists that customers have the right to communicate freely online. A trial is now set for October.

  • Privacy

    • New Zealand Prime Minister Retracts Vow To Resign if Mass Surveillance Is Shown

      In August 2013, as evidence emerged of the active participation by New Zealand in the “Five Eyes” mass surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden, the country’s conservative Prime Minister, John Key, vehemently denied that his government engages in such spying. He went beyond mere denials, expressly vowing to resign if it were ever proven that his government engages in mass surveillance of New Zealanders. He issued that denial, and the accompanying resignation vow, in order to reassure the country over fears provoked by a new bill he advocated to increase the surveillance powers of that country’s spying agency, Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) — a bill that passed by one vote thanks to the Prime Minister’s guarantees that the new law would not permit mass surveillance.

    • Internet privacy, funded by spooks: A brief history of the BBG

      In 2014, Congress massively upped the BBG’s “Internet freedom” budget to $25 million, with half of that money flowing through RFA and into the Open Technology Fund. This $12.75 million represented a three-fold increase in OTF’s budget from 2013 — a considerable expansion for an outfit that was just a few years old. Clearly, it’s doing something that the government likes. A lot.

    • Think Different, standing up for Sheffield.

      I want to stand for a party that opposes mass surveillance and stands up for civil liberties. A party that understands the common good, that people must have jobs that pay fairly in an economy that benefits them, homes they can afford and access to great education. The Pirate Party does.

    • A Way Forward: Bruce Schneier’s Data and Goliath Explains Where Our Privacy is Now, and How We Fix It

      That’s why Data and Goliath is such an exciting book. On top of the ongoing avalanche of stories of cyberwarfare, data breaches and corporate snooping, the Snowden revelations have left many people confused and cynical about protecting their own privacy. Too many believe that nothing can be done to regain some of the privacy and power over our own lives that we have lost to ubiquitous mass surveillance. Worse, politics of fear have cowed citizens, congressmen and judges alike from claiming their important roles in oversight of national intelligence techniques and agencies.

    • valencia tracking device

      On March 4th, 2015, we found a tracking device inside of the wheel well of a car belonging to an attendee of the Circumvention Tech Festival in Valencia, Spain. This was reported in the local media.

    • WhatsApp slaps unofficial app users with permanent ban

      MESSAGING APPLICATION WhatsApp will issue those using third-party apps with a permanent ban from the service.

    • Snapchat Is Raising Money From Alibaba at a $15 Billion Valuation

      Snapchat is part of a breed of startups with multibillion-dollar valuations, with investors lining up to offer financing. With the latest deal, Snapchat would be ranked behind only mobile car-booking application Uber Technologies Inc. and Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp., according to data compiled by researcher CB Insights. Xiaomi is pegged at $45 billion, while Uber’s latest round valued it at $40 billion.

    • Facebook Is Facing a Massive Lawsuit Over Online Purchases Made by Kids

      The company has so far refused to refund purchases made by children without parental permission

    • Privacy advocates try to keep ‘creepy,’ ‘eavesdropping’ Hello Barbie from hitting shelves

      At a recent New York toy fair, a Mattel representative introduced the newest version of Barbie by saying: “Welcome to New York, Barbie.”

      The doll, named Hello Barbie, responded: “I love New York! Don’t you? Tell me, what’s your favorite part about the city? The food, fashion or the sights?”

    • Google Denies Narrow Warrant Request For Emails; Government Responds By Asking For Everything Ever

      Another participant in the Magistrate’s Revolt appears out of the unlikeliest of districts: Alaska. The court order, first pointed out by ACLU’s chief tech sorcerer, Chris Soghoian, features Judge Kevin McCoy telling the government to take its overly-broad search warrants and hit the road. Well, mostly. The order is without prejudice, which means the government still has options available, but from what’s stated by the judge, it won’t be the latest option the government deployed.

    • PRISM: UK government finds that bulk collection is not mass surveillance

      THE MUCH ANTICIPATED OFFICIAL government review into GCHQ bulk data collection has found that such activity is fine, and should not be considered mass surveillance. It also acknowledged that some legislative change is needed.

    • Report Says UK Citizens Must Give Up Right To Privacy Because ‘Terrorism’, Reveals Huge Secret Government Databases

      And that’s it: basically, the ISC is saying that all that is needed is a bit of a legal tidying-up. In terms of more detailed recommendations, the report suggests that the abuse of interception powers should be made a criminal offense — currently it isn’t — and that a new category of metadata called “Communications Data Plus”, which includes things like Web addresses, needs slightly greater protection than “traditional” telephone metadata.

    • European Governments Seeking To Water Down EU’s Proposed Data Protection Legislation
    • The Democratization of Cyberattack

      When I was working with the Guardian on the Snowden documents, the one top-secret program the NSA desperately did not want us to expose was QUANTUM. This is the NSA’s program for what is called packet injection–basically, a technology that allows the agency to hack into computers.

    • EFF Grabs Two More Docs From The NSA, Detailing Expanded Post-9/11 Surveillance Powers And Section 702 Justifications

      Thanks to its ongoing FOIA lawsuit against the NSA, the EFF has managed to secure another set of documents detailing the legal rationalizations behind the intelligence agency’s “collect it all” approach, as well as the FISA’s courts approval of expanded surveillance powers in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

    • Why Online Attacks By Nations Are Problematic: Enemies Can Learn From Your Digital Weapons, Then Turn Improved Versions Against You

      The NSA is specifically concerned that Iran’s cyberweapons will become increasingly potent and sophisticated by virtue of learning from the attacks that have been launched against that country. “Iran’s destructive cyber attack against Saudi Aramco in August 2012, during which data was destroyed on tens of thousands of computers, was the first such attack NSA has observed from this adversary,” the NSA document states. “Iran, having been a victim of a similar cyber attack against its own oil industry in April 2012, has demonstrated a clear ability to learn from the capabilities and actions of others.”

      That’s because, unlike traditional physical weapons used against enemy infrastructure, digital versions are not generally destroyed during an attack. One of their big advantages is that once they have infiltrated and infected a target system, they can continue to carry out surveillance or attacks over a long time period. But that also means they may eventually be discovered — especially if they leak out — allowing them to be studied and improved in a way generally not possible with traditional weapons. Those new versions can then be directed elsewhere, including against the original attacker.

    • Government “Clarifies” Its Stance on NSL Gag Orders

      It seems the government doesn’t know where it stands when it comes to national security letters (NSLs).

    • Petraeus won’t serve a day in jail for his leaks. Edward Snowden shouldn’t either

      The sweetheart deal the Justice Department gave to former CIA director David Petraeus for leaking top secret information compared to the stiff jail sentences other low-level leakers have received under the Obama administration has led to renewed calls for leniency for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. And no one makes the case better than famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

  • Civil Rights

    • Albuquerque PD encrypts videos before releasing them in records request

      Har-har-fuck-you, said Albequerque’s murderous, lawless police department, as they fulfilled a records request from Gail Martin, whose husband was killed by them, by sending her encrypted CDs with the relevant videos, then refusing to give her the passwords.

    • Albuquerque Police Dept. ‘Complies’ With Records Request By Releasing Password-Protected Videos… But Not The Password

      If there’s one thing the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) does well — or at least, frequently — it’s shoot and kill Albuquerque residents. Its officers’ obvious preference for excessive and/or deadly force attracted the notice of the DOJ, which issued a (mostly) scathing review that was tempered somewhat by the DOJ’s appreciation of the inherent risks of the job, as well as all the hard work the city’s officers do when not shooting Albuquerque residents.

    • Scott Walker’s CPAC Stumble is the Tip of the ISISberg

      Like Walker’s ISIS comments, the governor’s former body guard intentionally linked peaceful Wisconsin protestors and 9/11 terrorism. But national and local media skipped over the innuendo. The Walker Administration later let loose with more than 100 dramatic, handcuffed arrests of singers, including an octogenarian, a 14 year old, a local radio personality and the Raging Grannies.

    • Majority of use-of-force incidents not recorded by Denver cops’ body cams

      As the nation’s policing agents scramble to provide street officers with body cameras, a new study released Wednesday shows that a majority of use-of-force incidents weren’t captured by Denver police officers who are piloting use of the technology.

      There were a host of reasons for officers failing to turn on the body worn cameras (BWCs) in violation of Denver Police Department policy. According to an independent police monitor’s report, which surveyed the six months ending in December, only 26 percent of the use-of-force incidents in the studied policing district were captured on video.

    • EFF Files Brief In Support Of ‘Cannibal Cop’ To Keep The CFAA From Becoming Even MORE Abusive

      The US legal system took a step towards criminalizing thought when a New York court convicted a former NYPD officer of conspiring to kidnap, rape, kill and eat 100 women. The evidence against Gilberto Valle included chat logs and internet searches.

    • American contractor faces up to FIVE YEARS in Emirati prison and a $50,000 fine because he complained about his job on Facebook

      A hallmark of American life – griping about work – has landed a Florida man in a Middle Eastern jail.

    • Facebook rant lands US man in UAE jail

      An expat American has been arrested in the United Arab Emirates for comments he posted on Facebook while in the US.

      Helicopter mechanic Ryan Pate wrote the Facebook post while in Florida after arguing with employer Global Aerospace Logistics (Gal) over sick leave.

      On returning to Abu Dhabi from Florida, he was arrested for breaking the country’s strict cyber-slander laws.

      His trial is due to start on 17 March and he could face up to five years in jail and a large fine if found guilty.

    • Friend of man shot by Volusia Co. deputy calls killing ‘murder’

      Authorities have identified a man who died after being shot in the face by a Volusia County Sheriff’s deputy early Wednesday morning.

      The shooting happened while deputies served a search warrant for drugs in Deltona, authorities said.

    • Tech support scammer threatened to kill man when scam call backfired

      But one scammer took things to a new level by threatening to kill a man who pointed out that the scammer was trying to steal money.

      As we’ve reported numerous times, scammers pretending to work for Microsoft tech support call potential victims, tell them their computers are infected, convince them to provide remote access, and then charge them hundreds of dollars to fix imaginary problems.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Opinion: The FCC’s Net Neutrality Victory Is Anything But

      The day after the FCC’s net neutrality vote, Washington was downright frigid. I’d spoken at three events about the ruling, mentioning at each that the order could be overturned in court. I was tired and ready to go home.

      [...]

      And telecom lawyers? They love it: whatever happens, the inevitable litigation will mean a decade’s worth of job security.

    • Europe reverses course on net neutrality legislation

      Less than a year after the European Parliament voted to enshrine net neutrality in law, the principle has come under attack by the European Commission.

    • Net neutrality is a “Taliban-like issue”, says Europe’s top digital policymaker
    • The Cartoonist Has No Idea How Net Neutrality Works

      Earlier this week, the A Good Cartoon tumblr first posted a bunch of ridiculous and misleading political cartoons about net neutrality that showed zero understanding of net neutrality. And then the person behind the site remade many of those cartoons, but replaced the words in them with “the cartoonist has no idea how net neutrality works!” For reasons unknown, the original Tumblr post that had all of them has been taken down, but many of the images are still viewable via John Hodgman’s blog, and they’re worth checking out. Here are just a few with some additional commentary (because how can I not provide some commentary…)

    • Why America’s Internet Is So Shitty and Slow

      You may have heard that the internet is winning: net neutrality was saved, broadband was redefined to encourage higher speeds, and the dreaded Comcast-Time Warner Cable megamerger potentially thwarted. But the harsh reality is that America’s internet is still fundamentally broken, and there’s no easy fix.

    • Cable Proudly Declares Smart Shoppers A ‘Lower Quality’ Of Customer They Have No Interest In

      If you live in a broadband and TV market with anything even closely resembling competition, you’ve probably learned that the only way to get the best rates is to pit ISP retention departments against one another. Often only by seriously threatening to cancel can users force ISPs to bring out their best promotional offers, something you’ll have to repeat every few years if you don’t want to get socked with higher rates. The ideal consumer then, from the broadband and cable industry’s perspective, is one that grumbles a little bit but can’t be bothered to do a little extra legwork to secure better rates (read: the vast majority of users).

    • FCC Net Neutrality Rules Finally Released, Cue The ISP Lawsuits And Hyperbole

      Given the hysterical reaction to the FCC’s new net neutrality rules the last few weeks, it was easy to forget that nobody had actually read them yet. As noted previously, the lack of public documents wasn’t some sort of elitist cabal, but a routine (if stupid) part of FCC procedure restricting the agency from publicizing new rules until they’ve been voted on and include all Commissioner commentary. Of course, ISPs and congressional allies breathlessly opposed to Title II hadn’t read the rules either, preventing their lawyers from launching their expected legal assaults.

    • Nokia CEO: We Have To Get Rid Of Net Neutrality, Otherwise Self-Driving Cars Will Keep On Crashing Into Each Other

      Yes, according to Suri, there are going to be terrible pile-ups on the roads unless we get rid of net neutrality. Leaving aside the fact that low-latency communications across the internet will come anyway — if there’s one thing that’s certain in the world of digital technology, it’s that everything gets faster and cheaper — there’s another problem with this argument.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Will The Vulcan Salute Live Long And Prosper? The Rush To Lock Up ‘Cultural Expression’

      What does Leonard Nimoy’s “Vulcan salute” have to do with European newspaper headlines? They both might one day be regulated by new international intellectual property rules, if some have their way. One might think that what constitutes “intellectual property” is set in stone, but it isn’t. Around the world, different interests are lobbying for governments to create new types of intellectual property all the time.

    • The White House Has Gone Full Doublespeak on Fast Track and the TPP

      Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Orrin Hatch are now in a stand-off over a bill that would put secretive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement on the Fast Track to passage through Congress. The White House meanwhile, has intensified their propaganda campaign, going so far as to mislead the public about how trade deals—like the TPP and its counterpart, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—will affect the Internet and users’ rights. They are creating videos, writing several blog posts, and then this week, even sent out a letter from an “online small business owner” to everyone on the White House’s massive email list, to further misinform the public about Fast Track.

    • EU’s Socialist Politicians Come Out Strongly Against Corporate Sovereignty — To A Certain Extent…

      Techdirt has been writing about corporate sovereignty for nearly two years now. The public is beginning to wake up to the dangers it poses, which means that politicians, too, are suddenly discovering that they need to have an opinion on the subject. Over in the European Union, attention is focused on the S&D (Socialists and Democrats) Group in the European Parliament. Because of the way seats were won in the recent EU elections, it is the S&D group that will make or break TTIP/TAFTA; that makes its position on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) crucial.

    • Copyrights

      • Mega Ponders Legal Action in Response to Damaging Paypal Ban

        Two weeks ago PayPal closed the account of cloud-storage service Mega, citing pressure from Visa and MasterCard. The ban has undoubtedly hurt Mega’s business, and CEO Graham Gaylard is in Europe to discuss possible legal repercussions against a report that’s partly responsible for the ban

      • Ebook Library Punishes Anti-Piracy Outfit For Wrongful DMCA Notices

        The Ultimate Ebook Library, TUEBL, is taking countermeasures against anti-piracy company MUSO for continued abuse of its DMCA takedown process. The ebook site is demanding the payment of a $150 fine, while threatening to ban MUSO’s IP-addresses and restore previously removed books if the company fails to comply.

      • U.S. Government Lists Top Torrent Sites as Piracy Havens

        A new report published by the United States Trade Representative has listed the world’s largest BitTorrent sites and cyberlockers as some of the most problematic copyright infringers in the world. Popcorn Time and its derivatives are mentioned too, with the former’s creation blamed on YIFY/YTS. Domain name registrars are also placed under the spotlight.

      • Cyberlocker Traffic Plummets, But Not Mega

        The past six months have not been good ones for some of the world’s leading file-hosting sites. Many have seen their traffic plummet as a result of Google algorithm changes, but interestingly some are bucking the trend. Mega.co.nz, for example, is doing better than ever.

      • Is 10 Years in Jail the Answer to Online Pirates?

        Physical counterfeiters can receive up to 10 years in jail under UK copyright law but should online pirates receive the same maximum punishment? A new report commissioned by the government reveals that many major rightsholders believe they should, but will that have the desired effect?

      • Lets Talk About the Music Industry…

        Many musicians believed that rhetoric that the reason they weren’t seeing profits from their hard work was due to evil music pirates and not deceptive industry accounting practices. They began to attack their own fanbases with accusation of music piracy, in some cases even filing lawsuits against some of their biggest fans. Meanwhile, the music industry continues its shady practices, laughing all the way to the bank while frustrated artists shoot their own foot off.

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