04.20.15

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Links 21/4/2015: Project Photon, Ubuntu Touch Buzz

Posted in News Roundup at 7:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The best free, open-source software for everyday PC users

    Finding new software is a breeze for Linux users. The Linux desktop offers powerful, easy-to-use open-source applications for everything you need, just a few clicks away in your Linux distribution’s package manager. The programs are free, too—and you don’t have to dodge the installer crapware you do on Windows.

    But which of those programs are right for you? We have answers. The applications highlighted here are the pick of the litter for the average Linux user looking to stock up on software. Heck, these particular applications are so good that almost all of them are available on other platforms and are popular even among Windows users.

    Say what you want about the Linux desktop—it’s a much more capable, mature environment than the WinRT environment in Windows 8. Chrome OS and its Chrome apps still can’t match Linux’s power, either.

  • What does an adult look like in an open source community?

    Communities can be as simple as a person having a campfire and someone else joining them. If you’re a commerce-minded campfire owner, it’s about what other people need to trade to sit beside it. If you’re a government-minded campfire owner, it’s about when you need to implement a firewood tax so that you can maintain the fire. And social structures manifest in very straightforward ways. Every village has its idiot. Every playground has its bully.

  • Solving the Free Software Liability Conundrum

    As you may have noticed, a lot of software has a lot of bugs. Even open source code has them, but the main damage tends to come from certain well-known, widely-used proprietary programs – not forgetting well-known, widely-used open source programs with proprietary layers like Android. In fact, some estimates put the annual damage caused by serious software flaws in the hundreds of billions of pounds range, which probably means that many trillions of pounds’ value has been destroyed thanks to buggy, flawed software over the years.

  • Ten lessons from Open Source Open Society 2015

    There’s a dark underside to open source culture. Chris Kelly from GitHub says because anyone can take part in open source, the door is open to assholes (he’s American, I’d prefer to say arseholes). That includes bullying white men with a sense of entitlement. Things often end up argumentative.

    He says this culture can frighten off outsiders, only a few women coders work in open source and the movement is missing out on the benefits of diversity. There’s a clear need to deal with this and to improve communications between people working in open source.

  • The future of Audacity, interview with the team

    We’re working on ways to make the code smaller, less work to bug fix, and related things to keep the project fun.

  • Events

    • POSSCON Successfully Reboots

      Last week in Columbia, South Carolina, the developers’ conference POSSCON went through something of a reboot. Last year the conference was cancelled to allow It-oLogy, the organization behind the event, to put its energy behind launching the Great Wide Open conference in Atlanta. This year, with last year’s successful premiere of the Hotlanta event under its belt, IT-oLogy pulled-out all the stops to reestablish POSSCON.

    • Libre Graphics Meeting 2015 for free and open source design

      This conference is open to the public, and registration is free. Libre Graphics Meeting is four days of talks, workshops, and hack sessions about free/libre and open source software for software developers, artists, designers, users, and other contributors. This year, the conference will be held in Toronto from April 29 to May 2.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 43 Beta: Web MIDI and upgrading legacy sites to HTTPS

        The newest Chrome Beta channel release includes Web MIDI support, new features to improve security and compatibility and a number of small changes to enable developers to build more powerful web applications. Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to Chrome for Android, Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Big Data Titans Align Around Open Data Platform, Open Tools

      Big data leaders are really converging around the Open Data Platform, recently announced by Pivotal, which we covered here. Hortonworks, IBM and Pivotal have announced that they are essentially harmonizing their Hadoop and data analytics strategies.

  • Databases

    • How real time data supply has changed

      RethinkDB is an open-source scalable database for what its makers call “the real time web”, but what does real time data supply mean in terms of the way web-centric applications function today?

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • April 2015 GNU Toolchain Update
    • Gnuastro webpage is activated

      The Gnuastro webpage ( http://www.gnu.org/software/gnuastro/ ) was activated and the documentation is now available. There is still a lot of work to do until it is ready for release though.

    • 30 Years On, HURD Lives: GNU Updates Open Source Unix Kernel

      The latest version of GNU HURD is out. If you’re asking, “What is GNU HURD?” you’re probably in good company. But as the open source kernel that was supposed to do what Linux ended up doing—provide the core for a cross-platform, Unix-like operating system whose code would be freely shared—the HURD is important. That it is still being actively developed three decades after its launch is worth remarking.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • L.A. School District Terminates iPad Program and Seeks Refund From Apple

    As the Los Angeles Times reports, the Unified School District Board of Education told its attorneys that they should consider litigation against Apple and Pearson. (Pearson developed the iPad curriculum as an Apple contractor.) District counsel David Holmquist said that Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines “made the decision that he wanted to put them on notice, Pearson in particular, that he’s dissatisfied with their product.” In a letter to Apple, the school district wrote that it won’t continue to pay for the Pearson curriculum or services. And board members are calling for a refund.

  • ‘Help! Fire!’ Talking parrots cause house fire confusion

    Emergency crews responded to a structure fire in Canyon County Friday night that caused some confusion.

  • Report: Scientology spy pretending to be a Time reporter tries to interview Paul Haggis

    Paul Haggis, the filmmaker and prominent ex-Scientologist whose story formed the backbone of Alex Gibney’s Scientology expose “Going Clear,” has alleged that a spy from the church pretended to be a Time reporter in order to get an interview with him.

    According to Haggis, on April 7th he received an email from someone named Mark Webber, who claimed to be a Time magazine reporter seeking to interview Haggis for a piece about the “golden age of film.”

  • We all risk losing our most previous memories: Mobiles mean we’re taking more pictures than ever, but RAY CONNOLLY has a warning

    Surely only a modern-day Luddite would disagree. Well, maybe not. Because it seems to me that the march of progress doesn’t always keep everything in step.

    While many things are gained by any great leap forward, other things are lost. When the CD was introduced in 1985, music fans were in raptures.

    Albums would never again get scratched, and CDs were so much better to play in the car than those cassettes on which the tape was liable to stretch or snap. What’s more, CDs were easier to store than those large pancakes of vinyl we used to love.

    But 30 years on, as Record Store Day showed at the weekend, those pancakes are making a comeback, with two million expected to be sold in Britain this year. Apparently, while CDs may be handier, the good old LP offers a warmer sound than the compressed noise we get on digital.

  • Science

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • New Saudi-Led Airstrike Kills At Least 26 Civilians in Yemen

      At least 26 people were killed by a Saudi-led bombing in Yemen’s capital, including a journalist at a nearby television station headquarters.

    • Oxfam Condemns Coalition Bombing of a Warehouse Containing Vital Humanitarian Aid

      Oxfam has vehemently condemned yesterday’s Coalition airstrike on one of its storage facilities in Saada Governorate in northern Yemen.

      Grace Ommer, Oxfam’s country director in Yemen said: “This is an absolute outrage particularly when one considers that we have shared detailed information with the Coalition on the locations of our offices and storage facilities. The contents of the warehouse had no military value. It only contained humanitarian supplies associated with our previous work in Saada, bringing clean water to thousands of households. Thankfully, no one was killed in this particular airstrike although conservative estimates put the death toll in the country as a whole, since the conflict began, at around 760 – the majority of which are civilians.”

    • Explosion Rips Through Homes in Yemen’s Capital After Airstrike

      Dozens of people were feared dead after an airstrike on Monday morning by a Saudi-led military coalition set off a huge explosion that flattened homes in the Yemeni capital, according to witnesses.

      The explosion shattered windows and shook buildings miles from the site of the attack, in the Faj Attan area of the capital, Sana. The wounded were taken to a nearby hospital in a stream of ambulances and trucks, and medical workers called for blood donations.

    • Saudi King Salman receives former UK Quartet envoy Tony Blair

      Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz received Britain’s special envoy for the Middle East quartet and former Prime Minister Tony Blair in his palace in Riyadh on Sunday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

    • US Military Spending Still Up 45% Over Pre-9/11 Levels; More Than Next 7 Countries Combined

      Despite a decline in military spending since 2010, U.S. defense expenditures are still 45 percent higher than they were before the 9/11 terror attacks put the country on a seemingly permanent war footing.

      And despite massive regional buildups spurred by conflict in the Ukraine and the Middle East, the U.S. spends more on its military than the next seven top-spending countries combined, according to new figures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Keeping Track of the US Intelligence Community’s Leakers

      Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler has written an excellent law-review article on the need for a whistleblower defense. And there’s this excellent article by David Pozen on why government leaks are, in general, a good thing. I wrote about the value of whistleblowers in Data and Goliath.

      Way back in June 2013, Glenn Greenwald said that “courage is contagious.” He seems to be correct.

    • The Right Way to Share Information and Improve Cybersecurity

      This year is turning out to be a banner one for flawed proposals that would allow businesses to share information about Americans’ online activity with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the name of cybersecurity. First came the White House plan in January, then the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) — which passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on a 14-1 vote earlier this month — and on Tuesday, the House introduced the Protecting Cyber Networks Act.

    • Official Leaks: “These Senior People Do Whatever They Want”

      When asked whether he would have supported working with the producers of Zero Dark Thirty, Department of Defense’s Director of Entertainment Media said he would not have recommended working with screenwriter Mark Boal and director Katherine Bigelow, because he was not happy with the way their movie Hurt Locker had presented the military. But he was not given a choice. “These senior people do whatever they want,” the Director told DOD’s Inspector General, according to a draft of the IG’s report on the leaks of classified information to Boal and Bigelow.

      The Project on Government Oversight released the draft this week.

      The Director’s comments are all the more telling given how much more centrally this draft of the report — as compared to another POGO obtained and released — point to the role of then CIA Director Leon Panetta and his Chief of Staff, Jeremy Bash, in leading the government to cooperate on the movie.

    • Assange: How ‘The Guardian’ Milked Edward Snowden’s Story

      In recent years, we have seen The Guardian consult itself into cinematic history—in the Jason Bourne films and others—as a hip, ultra-modern, intensely British newspaper with a progressive edge, a charmingly befuddled giant of investigative journalism with a cast-iron spine.

      The Snowden Files positions The Guardian as central to the Edward Snowden affair, elbowing out more significant players like Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras for Guardian stablemates, often with remarkably bad grace.

      “Disputatious gay” Glenn Greenwald’s distress at the U.K.’s detention of his husband, David Miranda, is described as “emotional” and “over-the-top.” My WikiLeaks colleague Sarah Harrison—who helped rescue Snowden from Hong Kong—is dismissed as a “would-be journalist.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • The Big Business of Being Sergey Brin

      Running Sergey Brin’s family affairs is a full-time job—and it takes dozens of people. The Google co-founder, who’s worth about $30 billion, has ex-bankers and philanthropy experts working at his family office, Bayshore Global Management. Brin also has employed a former Navy SEAL for security, a yacht captain, a fitness coordinator, a photographer, and an archivist, according to profiles on LinkedIn.

    • Who Subsidizes Restaurant Workers’ Pitiful Wages? You Do

      For Americans who like to eat out occasionally, the full-service restaurant industry is full of relatively affordable options—think Olive Garden, Applebees, or Chili’s. But these spots aren’t exactly a bargain once a hefty hidden cost is factored in: The amount of taxpayer assistance that goes to workers earning little pay.

      Food service workers have more than twice the poverty rate of the overall workforce, and thus more often seek out public benefits. A new report published last week by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), a restaurant workers’ advocacy and assistance group, calculated the tab and found that from 2009 to 2013, regular Americans subsidized the industry’s low wages with nearly $9.5 billion in tax money each year. That number includes spending from roughly 10 different assistance programs, including Medicaid, food stamps, and low-income housing programs like Section 8.

    • Migrants are not stealing our jobs; we have stolen theirs, even their lives

      So now we have deserving and undeserving migrants. Police in Sicily arrested 15 Muslim boat people rescued from a leaky rubber dinghy after other survivors accused them of having thrown 12 Christian passengers overboard in a dispute about religion. Perhaps this new moral category may help ease European consciences over the 22,000 desperate people who have died crossing the Mediterranean from Africa since the year 2000. We now have innocent migrants to contrast with guilty ones, good migrants and bad, or perhaps we should say bad migrants and worse migrants.

      We can add that to our existing hierarchy of moral culpability. Refugees are somehow accorded an ethical superiority over economic migrants because they are escaping persecution, rather than merely wanting a better life. Yet, in Africa, the migrant is celebrated as a contemporary hero, the daring risk-taker.

    • How to get into Harvard

      WikiLeaks has published all the Sony emails that had been hacked last November, and made them searchable by keyword. In 2014, a senior executive emailed an Ivy League vice-president of philanthropy: he’d like to endow a scholarship, anonymously, ‘at the $1mm level’. In another email, he tells a development officer that his daughter is applying to the college as her first choice. It’s all very decorous. The development staff arrange a ‘customised’ campus tour for his daughter and a meeting with the university’s president; but he asks for no favours and nothing is promised. An email from the president says that his daughter’s application will be looked at ‘very closely’. She gets in. He writes to his sister: ‘David… called me. he is obsessed with getting his eldest in Harvard next year.’ She replies: ‘If David wants to get his daughter in he should obviously start giving money.’ Obviously.

  • Censorship

    • The Miami Herald, the CIA, and the Bay of Pigs scoop that didn’t run

      There were a lot of bad days during the Cold War, but 54 years ago this weekend was one of the worst, at least for the United States. President John F. Kennedy sent an army of anti-Castro exiles backed by the CIA onto the beach at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs to suffer bloody, catastrophic defeat. It was “the beating of our lives,” the despondent Kennedy would say a few days later as he wondered aloud why nobody had talked him out of it.

      One of the piquant questions of Cold War history is, could the Miami Herald have done that — talked him out of it? In a little-known collision of journalism and national security, the Herald, seven months before the Bay of Pigs, had prepared a news story saying that the United States was planning to launch a military operation against Cuba. But the paper’s top management killed the story after CIA Director Allen Dulles said publishing it would hurt national security.

  • Privacy

    • GitHub’s 2014 Transparency Report

      Like most online services, GitHub occasionally receives legal requests relating to user accounts and content, such as subpoenas or takedown notices. You may wonder how often we receive such requests or how we respond to them, and how they could potentially impact your projects. Transparency and trust are essential to GitHub and the open-source community, and we want to do more than just tell you how we respond to legal notices. In that spirit, here is our first transparency report on the user-related legal requests we received in 2014.

    • ACCAN: Gov’t should remove ambiguity around VPNs

      Holy moly, ACCAN has issued a submission on the Copyright Amendment Bill 2015 regarding VPNs, website blocking, whack-a-mole and more.

      ACCAN, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, has made a 10-page submission on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infrigement) Bill 2015.

    • HBO Cracks Down on Paying VPN “Pirates”

      HBO has started to crack down on paying customers who access the HBO Now service from outside the United States. Subscribers from countries including Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia who use VPNs and other unblocking tools are now being threatened with account terminations.

    • The NSA’s Earth Day Mascot Is So Freaking Creepy

      The National Security Agency had released a mascot (?) for Earth Day (??) and it’s an anthropomorphized and oddly buff recycling bin named Dunk (???).

      Earth Day is this Wednesday, and the NSA apparently forged Dunk from the ether of our collective nightmares as part of its STEM education partnership with Maryland schools.

  • Civil Rights

    • Germany defies Turkey, calls Armenian massacre ‘genocide’

      The German government backed away on Monday from a steadfast refusal to use the term “genocide” to describe the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces 100 years ago after rebellious members of parliament forced its hand.

      In a major reversal in Turkey’s top trading partner in the European Union and home to millions of Turks, Germany joins other nations and institutions including France, the European parliament and Pope Francis in using the term condemned by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Geneva Internet Platform

      The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) and the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) have initiated the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), which fulfils the mission of an observatory, a capacity building centre (online and in situ), and a centre for discussion. The GIP is hosted by DiploFoundation.

    • Letter to MEPs: Do not give up Net Neutrality!

      On 3rd March 2015, the Council of the European Union voted a text endangering Net Neutrality in Europe, despite European Parliment’s position adopted a year ago. Negotiations between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union (trialogue) started on 11 March in order to settle an agreement on the final version. It is crucial that the European Parliament remains firm on the preservation of Net Neutrality, that ensure equal treatment on the data network and on prices. Infringing Net Neutrality means infringing fundamental rights and liberties of any European citizen. This is why, in order to remind our representatives their responsabilities, La Quadrature du Net sends a letter to Members of European Parliament calling them to reject Council’s propositions and to come back to a real protection of everyone’s rights and liberties.

    • Internet.org: delivering poor Internet to poor people

      Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org project bribes corrupt, non-neutral carriers in poor countries to exempt Facebook and other services of its choosing from their data-caps, giving the world’s poorest an Internet that’s been radically pruned to a sliver of what the rest of the world gets for free.

      Internet.org characterizes its goals as charitable and development-oriented. In their framework, poor people either face severe data-caps that limit their access to the Internet to almost nothing, or they get unlimited access to some of the Internet, thanks to Internet.org’s largesse.

    • ‘Sky wouldn’t let me leave until I had discussed my account for 90 minutes’

      Sky customers are continuing to report difficulties cancelling their contracts despite a crackdown by the regulator and a promise from Sky’s senior management last year that it would make it easier for customers to leave.

    • Net neutrality: What The Top People in Industry Have to Say

      Net neutrality has become a raging issue in the country and over the last one month everybody has been talking about it. Net neutrality is the concept that makes it mandatory for all service providers to offer access to consumers to all content on the internet including websites and applications, irrespective of the source and no special favors or blocking of any applications or websites.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Hundreds in Poland protest TTIP

      As many as 300 protesters took to the streets of Warsaw to voice their disapproval of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    • Sony Emails Show Industry Execs Pushing for Trade Deal

      Broadcast media has not devoted much air time to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, an agreement that will greatly impact 40 percent of the global economy. But hacked emails from Sony reveal that media industry executives have been engaged in active discussions about the agreement behind closed doors.

    • MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough Pleads “Guilty” on Failing to Cover TPP Trade Pact

      MSNBC TV personality Joe Scarborough pled “guilty” to not giving the major Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal enough coverage when I spoke to him about the issue over the weekend.

      I caught up with the Morning Joe cohost at the First in the Nation conference in Nashua, New Hampshire, a gathering of potential Republican presidential candidates and local activists. Scarborough spoke onstage about the importance of media diversity, encouraging his audience to listen to all sides of the ideological spectrum.

    • Copyrights

      • Sony Lawyer David Boies Warns Media Not To Publish Information On New WikiLeaks Database

        An attorney for Sony Pictures Entertainment is demanding media outlets ignore a new WikiLeaks database of internal documents obtained during a high-profile hack last year. The searchable archive, published Thursday, contains more than 200,000 documents and emails from a cyberattack that created a public relations nightmare for the studio, and which the U.S. government linked to North Korea.

        Lawyer David Boies sent a warning letter regarding use of the database to news outlets on Friday. The Hollywood Reporter said that it received the letter, and Bloomberg News reported it had reviewed the letter as well.

      • WikiLeaks Docs: Sony Chiefs Met With Cameron Ahead of Scottish Referendum

        British Prime Minister David Cameron met with representatives from Sony Pictures just ten weeks before the Scottish independence referendum to discuss the release of a TV show based on Scotland’s repression under British rule, documents released by WikiLeaks have revealed.

      • Leaked emails reveal Hollywood execs at work for Israel

        Top Hollywood bosses enjoy a strong relationship with the Israeli government and various pro-Israel lobbying groups across the United States, according to a cache of Sony internal emails leaked to Wikileaks and published for the first time last week.

        The emails reveal a dinner between Sony executives and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; the presenter of American X-Factor chiding actress Natalie Portman aggressively for her views on Israel; meetings between top entertainment chiefs and the Israeli consulate-general; close ties between Sony’s Co-Chairperson and various pro-Israel lobbying groups; and film chiefs planning, in detail, a new documentary about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, about which the emails also reflect rising concern.

      • New WikiLeaks documents reveal the inner workings of the Dr. Oz Show

        Dr. Mehmet Oz often appears on his popular show to promote new health products and devices. Most viewers are likely under the impression that he’s doing this because he’s closely considered their merits and decided the products are widely beneficial.

        But newly leaked emails suggest that business considerations — not health or science — can be a driving factor in which products Oz decides to promote.

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